It’s officially one pot season – so dig out your slow cooker or invest in one because autumn dishes deserve to be masterpieces
The arrival of shorter days, falling leaves and late afternoon drives home in the dark tells you that autumn is here. Instinctively our bodies crave that warm to the core feeling you get from comforting and hearty meals such as soups or casseroles to combat the distinct chill in the air. Such dishes often need time and attention which is difficult in today’s busy world and not the priority when you walk hungry and tired through the door at the end of the day.
The answer could be a slow cooker; a one stop one pot solution to a satisfying meal within minutes of arriving home. It works by cooking food at a low temperature over many hours and can be left unattended. It isn’t just soups either; prepare to be surprised by just what your slow cooker can dish up.
Here’s 10 reasons why slow cooking in autumn is the only way to go.
1. Simple and Effective
A slow cooker consists of a ceramic pot that sits in a metal housing containing an electrical heating element all topped off with a glass lid. Even though controls may range from a basic on and off through to multiple heat settings, digital timers and auto stir options at heart they remain simple and fool proof to use staying true to their honest and humble roots.
2. Cook for as many as you want
Slow cookers have different capacities, so you can buy a model in a size to match or perhaps invest in something bigger to save money by freezing the excess or entertaining. As a rule of thumb, a 1.5 to 3 litre capacity feeds one or two, 3 to 5 litre feeds three to four, 5 to 5.5 litre feeds four to five and a 6.5 litre feeds six to eight.
3. Save money
Slow cookers are energy efficient using between 75/150 watts on low and 150/210 on high so you can cook all day for only a few pennies! You can also buy cheaper cuts of meat which are best cooked slow and long.
4. Save time and effort
Sales of slow cookers are on the increase as busy people realise how easy it is to make tasty and cheap meals with them. We are all working more and with a slow cooker what could be easier than just popping your raw ingredients in and walking out the door.
5. What can you cook?
The answer is a lot more than you thought! What about yogurt or porridge for breakfast and slow cooked pulled pork or chicken fajitas for supper? You can also cook a ham in a slow cooker as well as macaroni cheese or even a loaf of bread.
6. Words of caution
The heat distribution in larger models can be patchy so check the reviews, and the size of the bowl does not reflect the amount of food produced as you cannot overfill them. Never add raw red kidney beans as cooking at a low temperature does not destroy toxins, wash rice well to avoid a “gloopy” mess and reduce the liquid content in recipes as none escapes during cooking. Oh yes and don’t forget power cuts can be problematic.
7. Tricks of the trade
Always brown mince and seal meat as while very tasty it can look pale otherwise. Add gravy browning or marmite to colour casseroles and thicken with cornflour or enrich a sauce with cream.
8. More recipes
Although celebrity chefs are not rushing to endorse slow cookers there is no lack of recipes online to choose from and prepare to be surprised by how imaginative they are.
9. The original “crock pot”
The original and they claim the best slow cooker. Check out crockpot.co.uk for recipe ideas and lots more.
10. Where to buy
The answer is more places than space to list them here as every major online and high street retailer sells them. Read reviews to ensure the slow cooker you choose has the capacity and facilities to match your needs.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start slowing it down in the kitchen.