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Slow cookers and slow cookery

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Si_ClistSi_Clist Forumite
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Advice please regarding a slow cooker.  I'm in my 70s and now my wife isn't able to do much of the cooking, I'm wondering if I can perhaps widen our choice of meals by investing in a slow cooker. There's just the two of us, and we like simple food.  I know very little about cooking, but I'm very good at following instructions.  So, on to my three specific questions ...
1.  Any reason why it would not make sense to get a 3.5 litre slow cooker rather than a 1.5 litre?
2.  Many years ago, I was served a delicious meal that was definitely cooked in a slow cooker, and IIRC the ingredients were just pork, apple and onion.  Anybody know what the recipe could have been? 
3.  And finally, we're dependent on online ordering and home delivery, so if I wanted to make some sort of beef stew, exactly what meat should I order (from either Tesco's or Morrison's)?  I rather like the idea of ordering more than I'd need for one meal, and keeping the rest in the freezer, and if it makes any difference, we definitely don't like fatty meat.  We're hard up but we'd rather pay a bit more to avoid fat.
Hope that all makes some kind of sense :smile:
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  • boazuboazu Forumite
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    Buy the slow cooker from a charity shop, they turn up regularly and buy two not one.  I have two a large one for stews etc and the smaller one makes rice for accompanying or jacket potatoes and also stews fruit for pudding.  The bigger one will probably make at least 4 portions of whatever is cooked and two days eating the same thing never killed anyone.  The cheapest cuts of meat will take the longer cooking so scrag of lamb, shin of beef, belly/hand of pork will all make delicious meals for a fraction of the cost of the prime cuts.  Pulses cook well in slow cookers and make nourishing meals too.  You can make steamed puddings in slow cookers, you can cook cakes and bread too so in a situation where we may have to provide for ourselves if we get the double whammy of covid and brexit together they are a really useful tool for those having to be virtually self sufficient.
    There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is pleasure in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in it's roar.  I love not man the less, but Nature more.
  • edited 4 July at 6:23PM
    FlossFloss Forumite
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    edited 4 July at 6:23PM
    Si, cheaper cuts respond best to slow cooking, so cuts such as belly pork, lamb neck, beef skirt, braising steak, oxtail (cook it one day, leave to cool, pick out the bones & remove the fat & reheat - delicious!). 
    There are several pork apple & onion slow cooker recipes online, maybe have a look to see if you recognise any?
    Size wise - you can cook a whole chicken in a 3.5 litre slow cooker. Also if you have capacity to freeze, you can do a batch of meals & freeze them.
  • joedenisejoedenise Forumite
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    I'd definitely go for a 3.5l Slow Cooker.  That way you can make a large batch and then freeze portions for another day.  I use a 3.5l oval Slow Cooker, the oval ones are better than the round ones as you can even fit a whole chicken in to cook it and it's absolutely delicious, really moist.  The only thing is the skin will be inedible as it obviously won't crisp up!  

    You can cook a whole chicken and don't need to add anything else, although I like to cook it on some halved onions so that the juices collect in the bottom and the chicken isn't sitting in it.  You could even put other root veg in there underneath like carrots & parsnips.  Once the chicken is cooked, lift it out and onto a board - you will need to use a couple of forks or a fork at one end and a fish slice at the other and the meat will just fall off it.

    You can use the meat to make lots of other meals.  We usually have it hot one day as part of a roast dinner, so I'll roast potatoes, onions, carrots, peppers in the oven to go with it.  The next day we'll have it cold with chips & beans or boiled (or mashed) potatoes and some veg.  Another day you can make a pie, just put some of the chicken in a pastry case (use ready made shortcrust pastry if you like), pour over a tin of condensed mushroom or chicken soup and top with some more pastry and cook in the oven at 220 degrees for about 30 minutes.

    Beef stew - I usually use skirt beef but you can just order stewing beef, chop up root vegetables - carrot, swede, parsnip, onions, throw it all in the slow cooker and add some stock made with a stock cube to come about half way up the contents.  You can add potato if you like but I prefer to cook the potato separately and mash it to have with the stew.  If you want dumplings they needed to be added about an hour before the stew is ready.

    I would suggest, once the libraries reopen, to see if you can borrow a slow cooker cookbook or perhaps order one online, or do you have a family member who might be able to lend you one so you can get other recipes.  There are also recipes online so just google.

    It might be worth you having a look at some of the recipes at the beginning of the Grocery Challenge thread as I'm sure some of the recipes on there can be done in the slow cooker.

    Good luck.

  • NargleblastNargleblast Forumite
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    Argos on their website have some Breville slow cookers on clearance at present, (below £25) and they get a five star rating. You could order one for home delivery and see how you get on. When eventually charity shops open up again you can have a look for a second one, as suggested you could do main course in one and accompaniments or puddings in the other. Slow cookers are also good for making a batch of yoghurt, if that's your thing. I find slow cookers with a high and a low setting useful, I find one hour on high is roughly equal to two hours on low. 
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  • -taff-taff Forumite
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    I normally use skirt in beef stews, see if any local butchers will deliver meat, some of them here are now thanks to covid.
    Stews, soups, curries etc can be made. I make a mean chilli mac and chese now thanks to the slow cooker. Brose online for recipes. Also, don't expect any stew type thing to cook with a thick gravy, anything you cook in there will be watery [ it's the nature of the slow cooker because no excess liquid evaporates, so factor that in when you cook in it. I love a good slow cooker meal, so easy.
  • VegastareVegastare Forumite
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    Si ....as someone who gets online groceries from the supermarkets you mention...it might be difficult to get braising steak from them, Tesco do sell diced beef that along with sliced carrot and onion (plus stock cube) would make a stew.  Tesco also have brisket beef joint again add some stock or carrot onion to flavour, it slow cooks well and I then but it between two plates and place a weight( or bag sugar) on top after 30 mins it will slice nicely.  You could get some ready made yorkshire puddings!! Also a gammon /bacon joint cooks well(but with this just add water as can be salty)
    Now for the pork and apple recipe, well I slice one onion and place at bottom of slow cooker either use pork chops  and seal in frying pan for a minute either side, then place on top onions peel slice and core 2 apples and place on top.  I normally do this in winter and have my own apples which fall easily...sprinkle brown sugar lightly on top( just to sweeten alittle).  I then put about a mug of stock over, our you could use cider!!  
    A couple of things, if you add hot stock or water it gets the temperature up quicker, I never add a lot of liquid because the condensation creates quite a bit of liquid as things cook.  My crockpot is about 20years old and still going strong....even use it for making steam pudding.  It's not the largest but wouldn't be with out it.   If you did get a new one it would come with a recipe book to give you some ideas. 
  • PipneyJanePipneyJane Forumite
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    Buy the 3.5L one or larger.  At 1.5L, the small one isn’t large enough to take enough food to make a meal for two.  For instance, it won’t take two lamb shanks.   If you can’t visualise how large 1.5L is, it’s less than 3 pints of milk. 

    Slow cookers are great for stews and pot roasts.  Any recipe will do, but only use 1/3 of the liquid specified because there shouldn’t be much evaporation. 

    HTH

    - Pip
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  • edited 4 July at 7:07PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
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    edited 4 July at 7:07PM
    There can also be a texture issue with veg.
    I can't abide potatoes cooked in the slow cooker, although other people don't seem to mind. Other veg doesn't seem to be as bad.

    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • missychrissymissychrissy Forumite
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    I have the 6 L Cookworks slow cooker (Argos own brand). I’ve had 3 slow cookers over the years and this is my favourite. I’ve also bought it for one of my sons and they use it regularly.
    i love mine,I used to use a pressure cooker but I now prefer a SC. I use shin of beef if doing a beef casserole but I use a lot of pulses: lentils; split peas; marrow fat peas; barley etc. I often cook a ham joint (usually cost under a fiver) with either marrow fat peas or split peas. I can freeze portions of each. Ham and pease pudding for sandwiches or soup, mushy peas with fish, fish cakes or corned beef and potato pie. Although I live on my own I always cook in bulk and freeze.

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