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Slowcooker - dump and go recipes- help please!(20 Posts)
My life recently got a lot more hectic and meal planning and healthy eating has suffered as a result. The sit down family meal is now a rarity and the number of people needing a meal varies hugely. Balanced meals & vegetable's are slowly being edges out of our diets!
Part of my "fightback plan" is to buy a large slowcooker, cook too much and freeze leftovers.
I have slow-cooked extensively before, but I have never been so time poor and currently there is no way I am getting up 15 minutes early in the morning to brown meat. I don't mind batch chopping veg and bagging them in the fridge / Freezer..but I am not browning, decanting and thickening or any other faffing.
So I need recipes.
Unfortunately almost everything I've found (by googling) claiming to be cooked this way either looks like food slurry, or just lies ( crispy roasted chicken from a slow-cooker?)
I want real edible recipes that real people have tested and taste ok. So I have turned to you all in a last ditch attempt to not slide any further down the slippery slope to microwave meals and takeaways which neither our pockets or our waistlines can really afford.
Please help! Links recipes suggestions?
I've put this on here a few times but it really is good! Obviously you can use fresh veg but you wanted easy!
Frozen chopped onions
Frozen chopped peppers
Jar of red (hot and sweet) jalapeños - liquid and all
Couple of oxo cubes
Sprinkle of dried thyme
Chuck it all in the slow cooker - mix well and cook on low for 8 hours.
I do a beef stew with a packet of cubed beef, half a bag of frozen stew vegetables, a tin of chopped tomatoes, stock cube, a good table spoon full of caramelised onion chutney and a glug of red wine or sherry.
If you're not adversed to jarred sauces chicken curry is easy. I think the nicest jarred sauces are the Lloyd Groseman ones, put in one of them, chopped chicken breast or thigh and a diced sweet potato.
My ultimate dump and go slow cooker 'recipe' is a packet of ready made meatballs, a jar of pasta sauce and some sliced mushrooms.
Dried onions and red wine are your friends, here. They make a huge difference to the flavour of slow-cooked meals, when you don't want to go to the trouble of frying-off or browning. TBH I never bother to any more, even when I do have the time!
Thyme, rosemary and bay are excellent in the slow-cooker, as they withstand the cooking better than other herbs. (I'd use thyme with bay, or rosemary with bay, but not thyme with rosemary.)
Wow, three post and I've learned 4 new things!
I just, rather stupidly, assumed the liquid in hard of jalapenos was vinegar
I hadn't thought about meatballs, because you know..these disintegrate if you stirred them raw ( duh)
And using chutney..and dried onions. I am laughing at my own stupid assumptions here.
My dc's current favourite:
Chicken and Pearl Barley Slow Cook
Packet of dried onions and a cup of pearl barley mixed together in the SC.
Lay a couple of bay leaves on top.
Cover with sliced leek.
Cover that with sliced mushrooms.
Lay two packets of chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top.
Pour a generous glass of red wine over all of it.
Pour chicken stock over all of it, until the liquid just touches the chicken.
Cook on low for about 6h.
I'm sure you could use frozen chopped veg instead of fresh, in which case either cook on high or for longer.
Risotto rice is an excellent substitute for the pearl barley in this dish.
You can do exactly the same with any meat, but, if it doesn't have a fatty or skin side up, I would carefully spoon a ton of chopped tomatoes over the very top to prevent it getting dry. Swap the stock for the appropriate meat stock, of course.
I generally make some quick microwave-steamed veg when we're ready to eat. Particularly useful when we're all eating at different times - main keeps warm in the SC,
fusspots family can prep whatever veg they each want.
Diced lamb, 1 chopped onion, half a jar of curry paste, 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tin coconut milk. Really nice.
I shove a tin of chickpeas and a pack of spinach in at some point too.
Jacket potatoes work very well in the SC. they don't get as hard on the outside, but the inside can get almost caramelly.
Sometimes I oil them and sprinkle with sea salt and thyme, first. Mmmmmm - then they need nothing added at the table, just a bit of butter.
But if you must have
a balanced meal toppings:
Baked beans. The snap-packs take 45s in the microwave.
A jar of Sacla Intenso Tomato and Olive Stir Through Sauce, especially if you want tuna but can't be bothered to make tuna-mayo: cut open potato, dollop of butter, dollop of plain tuna, dollop of sauce. Mmmmmmmmh
Stepaway- how do you do baked pots in a slow cooker?
It sounds amazing.
I am enjoying this thread as I am v busy at work and DH has started a new job and no longer has time to cook!
worth noting too hun.if you do want the crispy or slightly reduced sauce at the end of it.weve often bunged it in the oven on high to get it some more redcued caramlised cooked less slush look lol
we have a gorgeous sausage and onions one.basically whats better than slow cooker onions.well stick sauasages on top and its devine.i cant find the recipe now though but itl be easy enough to google.
www.thereciperebel.com/slow-cooker-mongolian-beef/ better when you just dump everything in
butter chicken is also fab.
there are some great rice ones out there too.
and whole joint of beef recipes.
Roughly chopped chicken breast and and a jar of salsa (we literally use the pots with the green lid that you buy to dunk Doritos in. For the last hour or so grate a load of cheese over the top.
I call it Mexican chicken and serve with pasta and freaking lush.
The latest BBC Good Food mag has a slow cooker article in it. I tried the chicken curry recipe the other day and it was lovely.
2 chicken legs (skin removed)
3 tbsp mild curry paste
1/3 tin of water
2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
It says to put all this in the slow cooker and keep it in the fridge overnight but I just put it all in the slow cooker in the morning. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add chopped coriander before serving
but I didn't because I hate coriander
these should kee you all going
I am a big fan of the slow cooker and freezer combo. The book I recommend to everyone is "The 150 best slow cooker recipes" by Judith Finlayson BUT I see that it's now a "new and improved" second edition so it may be nothing like my copy. The recipes have a side bar for when you are short on time (usually you skip the browning and tip it all in). The key thing about the recipes is that they have little or no added liquid so there's not many that need thickening. The ones that cook with a topping (cornbread, shepherd's pie) don't freeze and reheat so well so I ditched those. I like things that have masses of beans in so all I have to do is serve it up with rice/potatoes.
The other obvious thing is to freeze portions that give you options, instead of freezing a meal for four do it as 2, 1, 1 if you're not sure how many will be in to eat it. Have a list of what you put in the freezer and cross off what you take out. It feels like a faff but saves much more time than it takes to do it.
My other solution is really harsh but it works for us so I'll suggest it. I have a five week meal plan. I write it a week at a time on the kitchen door together with F or C depending on whether it's in the freezer or I need to cook. I know what I need to buy for the following week and I know how many days I need to cook.
It's terribly complicated, Constantly.
Wash, bung in, set on low for at least 8h.
To eat sooner, use the higher heat setting.
If you've got more prep-time available, wash, dry, bung in, drizzle oil, sprinkle thyme and sea salt, mix it all up with your hands to coat the potatoes, then wash your hands and set on low for at least 8h/high for 6h.
The cooked potatoes can sit in the slow cooker on low or keep-warm for hours without spoiling, just like in a commercial jacket potato thing, so it's another meal that's great for evenings when everyone's in and out at different times.
You lot are brilliant - thank you so much for every single reply.
I have been so tense and stressed about this (its been just one thing too many) and I can quite literally feel myself unfurling reading these. These look like proper food to me, certainly things the family (and assorted unexpected guests they drag home ) would be happy to eat.
I am going to start making make a plan as some of you have suggested - now I actually have some things to put on it
and as my freezer hides in a utility room cupboard I could just have a big whiteboard next to it and keep a better inventory of what I have.
I may need to have a bit of a clear out of the crap beige food that it seems to be full of but I'm really looking forward to this now.
I shall be looking through all the links and book recommendations too.
I really think I have to make this work.
Another question. When I was browsing earlier I found quite a few "food prepping" blogs that included raw potatoes in the bags of frozen meat, veg and sauce that they then just defrosted and bunged in - I've not tried this as I had the idea the texture wasn't nice - but I cant remember why I think this.
Is this another instance of my brain making misinformed assumptions?
Potatoes cook fine that way. They do soak up the flavour of the stew, unlike roast or boiled potatoes, and the outside may go a little mushy, but it's a taste mushy.
You need to make sure the potatoes are arranged around the edge of the pot, where the heating element runs. They are very dense, compared to the other ingredients, and may not cook through if they are too far from the heat-source.
Using fresh or frozen veg for this works. I normally do 2 or 3 dump dinner bags then you can just wing it in the SC.
Diced chorizo (yes you can freeze it's fine)
Half a teaspoon lazy jarred chilli
Tin of tomatoes
Pack of sausages
Some kind of beans - butter beans, mixed beans, chickpeas
Really nice healthy sausage casserole, serve with ready made mash or jacket potatoes. You can also chuck some lentils in 2 hours before it finishes cooking and it's a meal in itself - you might need to adjust the liquid a bit so it doesn't get dry
I do a variant of the one above but with chicken thighs, chorizo, paprika, tomatoes and a huge amount of white beans. It doesn't need thickening because of the tin of condensed cream of chicken soup that goes in it. I serve it with rice. I serve a lot of things with rice because you can buy it in bulk and keep it on the shelf without it sprouting or going off.
I cook rice and freeze it as a single layer on a baking tray. Scrape it off into a bag when frozen and then microwave it to have rice for one. If you read up on food safety with rice (you know, in your copious free time) you will see that it won't kill you if you treat it like meat. Cool it quickly, freeze it and nuke it - no leaving it hanging about at room temperature.
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