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slow cooker disaster

(20 Posts)
Clareb02 Thu 01-Jan-15 19:47:34

hi, I got a small swan 1.5l slow cooker for xmas, was so excited to try it out today but the beef stew has turned out really unappetising-I don't know whats gone wrong-I put in beef covered in some flour, carrots ,onions and a small amount of stock- the meat chunks all shrivelled up, the gravy was so watery I've had to reduce it down. the beef tasted ok but the carrots and onions were like I remember school dinners!it was put on low for 7 hours but I noticed it did seem to be bubbling a fair bit. the beef was only partially covered by the fluid. I don't want to give up yet! any tips would be great please!

nuts2you Thu 01-Jan-15 19:52:05

Did you brown the meat before putting it in? It's not essential but it makes it look better and IMO tastes better too.

I made this recipe (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/353606/beef-with-red-wine-and-carrots) on the normal stove today but it would also be good in the slow cooker.

It's also best to use cheap cuts in the slow cooker, they turn out really tender. More pricey cuts end up nasty and tough.

nuts2you Thu 01-Jan-15 19:53:18

PMSL at the school dinner veg by the way grin

Clareb02 Thu 01-Jan-15 19:54:15

no maybe browning it will help, but are the meat chunks supposed to shrivel up? it was M&S braising beef

BumWad Thu 01-Jan-15 19:55:11

I hate the taste of slow cooker food. I never seem to have got on with mine ended up giving it away in the end. Tried everything. Sorry op.

Clareb02 Thu 01-Jan-15 19:55:43

yes memory lane with the school veg!!

nuts2you Thu 01-Jan-15 19:56:37

I wouldn't have thought so!!! But they should be more or less submerged.

Did you follow a recipe? It should help you to get the proportions right while you get the hang of it.

Clareb02 Thu 01-Jan-15 19:59:12

yes it was a recipe for on the hob for 4, so modified by portion size,and halved the liquid

KissMyFatArse Thu 01-Jan-15 20:00:01

Id also brown the meet next time before putting in.

SerenaJoy Thu 01-Jan-15 20:05:04

You don't need as much liquid as you do when cooking on the hob, as it doesn't evaporate the same. So next time maybe try browning the meat as others have said, and cut down the amount of liquid. It takes a bit of getting used to - I've had mine for ages and I still balls it up sometimes! It's lovely when it works though, so don't give up yet!

SerenaJoy Thu 01-Jan-15 20:06:08

If you're on Facebook there's a few slow cooker groups on there with some good recipes - 'slow cooked wonders' is the one I follow ��

MulledLairyFights Thu 01-Jan-15 20:06:59

The gravy/sauce NEVER thickens. It just doesn't reduce. It's not supposed to. I take about a cup of the cooking liquid from mine about 30 min before serving, mix it with some flour to form a thick paste and then add it to the mix for the flour to cook out.

Dumplings also greatly help!

Poppyflowe Thu 01-Jan-15 20:07:30

Also, 7 hours cooking is too much. About 4 hours is all you need, otherwise, as my dd once described it, it tastes 'medieval'!

Add loads of herbs and flavouring like garlic (if you like garlic).

AnnoyingOrange Thu 01-Jan-15 20:12:44

I'm not a huge fan of carrots cooked for hours in a stew. I would strain them out, thicken the gravy and steam some fresh veg

WineWineWine Thu 01-Jan-15 20:29:24

Does your slow cooker have low, high and auto?
Cooking for 7 hours needs to be done on low or auto. I wouldn't cook veg for that long apart from onion. I would add the veg later.
The stock won't thicken, you need to thicken it at the end with some flour.

Clareb02 Thu 01-Jan-15 20:38:24

thanks for all the help, I put it on low,it also has high and auto, timings are from the recipe book which says 8 hours but that is for all sizes of their slow cookers,not sure if that makes a difference?
was hoping for something ready after work,not keen on all the separate thickening and cooking extra veg! lazybones!!

RojaGato Fri 02-Jan-15 00:33:17

I've got that one. I like it. My tips would be:

Always brown the meat first. Cover the meat/vegetables with stock. Four or five hours is enough. Diced potatoes/sweet potatoes/chestnuts are a good addition soak up the stock and it's a meal in one. I usually reduce the stock a bit when I deglaze the browning pan so it's a bit thicker from the start.

And yes, the meat does shrink a bit, bu tif it is covered in stock, not so much.

sashh Fri 02-Jan-15 10:11:52

Rule of thumb, you need 1/3 of the liquid you would put in a stew in the oven or on the hob.

Tip - get a recipe for a sc rather than trying to adapt one of your own.

Tip - buy some cheap meat - try pork ribs from Morrisons or a cheap joint and start with that.

Did you say it has an auto function? Try using that.

I have 2 slow cookers and they do cook differently, I find metal pots cook higher than ceramic so if it has a ceramic pot try using auto and then try high.

If you do an entire joint or a chicken do it on high anyway.

sashh Fri 02-Jan-15 10:18:21

Forgot to say, if you have a cook book for the sc it will have tips to rescue things if they go wrong.

dreamingofsun Sat 03-Jan-15 12:13:17

if it tastes a bit bland, add herbs, garlic, spoon of mustard, chilli, or chutney. you won't taste them, but it'll add a bit of oomph. if all else fails make it into curry by adding curry paste.

whats with the separate thickening? all you have to do is mix a bit of cornflour with cold water and add maybe 30 mins towards the end

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