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| Cooking Tips & Tricks | How to slow cook

How to slow cook

Whether you're using a slow cooker, or cooking in a casserole dish in the oven, there are a variety of beef and lamb cuts available which will produce tender, juicy and succulent family meals that are good for you too; meals cooked slowly retain maximum nutrition as well as developing a delicious depth of flavour. Don't let the time put you off; the preparation is quick and easy then the oven or slow cooker takes care of the rest.

How to slow cook

  1. Cut the meat into even-sized pieces and season.
  2. To add flavour, oil the meat then brown in a frying pan over a high heat, then transfer to a casserole dish/slow cooker. This is best done in small batches which will help the meat brown evenly rather than stew or burn in the pan. Repeat with seasonal vegetables.
  3. Remove excess fat from the pan and add stock or liquid. Stir well then pour over meat and vegetables. The liquid should almost cover the meat.
  4. Cover the dish tightly then cook according to the recipe.
  5. For some recipes, you can remove the liquid from the casserole dish and thicken it by simmering it in a pan on the stove.

Tips for top results

Use the appropriate cut:

Cuts with a certain amount of marbling and gelatinous connective tissue retain juiciness better than very lean cuts when cooked long and slowly. Economical cuts of beef and lamb will cook to perfection when cooked long and slow.

Braising vs stewing:

Braising and stewing are virtually the same, except with a braise the meat is partially submerged in liquid, and a stew, it's fully submerged. Also. with stews the ingredients, including the meat, are generally chopped smaller.

Brown meat first:

This not only improves colour but also develops flavour.

Cover the dish tightly:

A tight-fitting lid holds in the heat and liquid and makes the meat tender. If your lid is loose, cut a piece of baking paper to fit snuggly inside your dish, on top of the casserole.

Check for readiness at regular intervals:

Over-cooking can make the meat dry and stringy. If the meat is ready but the cooking liquid has not reduced enough to give a good sauce consistency, remove the meat (keep it covered so the surface does not dry) while you complete the sauce. Then return the meat to the hot sauce.

Reduce the liquid

Skim off natural fats and oils from the top of the dish during cooking if preferred or reduce the liquid down by simmering it in a saucepan on the stove before serving.

How to convert a regular recipe for the slow cooker

Time:

As a general rule, 1 hour of simmering on the cooktop of the oven equates to approximately 5-6 hours on low or 2-2.5 hours on high in a slow cooker.

Liquid:

As there is little evaporation when cooking with a slow cooker, you need to reduce the amount of liquid. As a general rule, reduce the liquid (such as stock, wine, or water) by about half of the original amount. A maximum of two cups of liquid will generally be enough for most slow cooker recipes (except soups).

Best meat cuts for slow cooking

Beef
  • Chuck steaks
  • Diced beef
  • Beef briskets
  • Blade steaks
  • Beef shin
  • Skirt steak
  • Oxtail
  • Short ribs
  • Cross cut blade
  • Gravy beef
Lamb
  • Shoulder
  • Shanks
  • Neck chops
  • Leg steaks
  • Diced lamb
  • Shoulder chops

Posted by Shawn Moodie

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