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Here at Morphy Richards, we’re passionate about all things slow cooking, so much so that we’ve brought out our own cook book – The Ultimate Slow Cooker Cook Book. The book, published by Ebury Press and written by Cara Hobday features over 100 delicious fuss-free recipes from family favourites to dishes for a dinner party.
The book also features hands tips and advice about using your slow cooker. Throughout the winter months, we’re going to bring you extracts from the book as well as several tasty recipes. If you like what you read and you want a copy for yourself; the book can be purchased from the Morphy Richards website (£5.99).
Today we’re going to bring you a series of top tips for cooking in your slow cooker:
- Spray the pot with an oil spray or coat the bottom with oil before you put anything inside it as this prevents the contents sticking
- If your recipe calls for a high amount of dairy products, such as milk, cream or yoghurt, there is a possibility they will curdle if left to cook for a long time. To avoid this, stir in the dairy products during the final 15 minutes of cooking, or substitute with evaporated or dried skimmed milk
- One complaint against slow cookers is that meals can taste very similar. For this reason it is important to brown the meat and the vegetables first, to draw the maximum flavour out of each ingredient. This also seals the meat, which prevents it drying out. When time is short, you can bypass the browning stage, but the taste of the finished dish might not be as flavoursome. Always brown minced meat over a high heat to kill any bacteria before adding to the pot.
- Be careful not to use too much water as the sauce may not be thick enough in the final dish. Remember that no water is lost from the pot during cooking, and a lot of moisture comes out of the vegetables, which means that it won’t boil dry.
- For added liquid I use hot stock so that the slow cooker heats up more quickly. However, over a cook time of 8 hours, this is not essential and will not noticeably change the finished dish.
- As well as using the recipes in this book, a wide variety of others can be adapted for use in a slow cooker. When adapting a recipe the main thing to remember is to use up to 50 per cent less liquid than you would when cooking a dish in the oven or on the hob. This is because a slow cooker is sealed and does not lose any liquid during cooking, unlike oven or hob cooking. As a general rule of thumb, use around 600ml of liquid in a dish for six servings, although this does vary between recipes. If there are a lot of vegetables, for example, less liquid is needed, as the vegetables release their own water into the sauce. All the recipes in the book have been created for use in a 3.5 litre slow cooker with a ceramic cooking pot so if you are using a larger capacity machine or Flavour Savour, remember to tweak the recipes and cooking guidelines accordingly.
- Although pies, with their crusty pastry, cannot be made in the slow cooker, pie fillings are very successful. All you need to do is fill a pie dish with the slow-cooked filling, top it with pastry and finish it off in the oven.
- You can even use your slow cooker for dishes you might never think of trying. For example, you could cook your porridge in the slow cooker over night for a ready-made hot breakfast in the morning.