How to: slow cooking

Despite the semi-warm sunshine filled days we have been graced with lately, there’s no mistake that there’s a definite chill in the air, especially when the sun goes down. And one of my favourite ways to warm up is by cooking, and there’s nothing more warming than something that has been slow cooked for many hours. The flavours that result are really something special, and the best thing is that apart from getting things started you’re mostly free to get on with other things.

So I thought I would share my guide to slow cooking. It’s something I do a lot of, love to eat, and absolutely anyone can get great results.

First things first:

what are you going to cook with?

In short: certain cuts of red meat lend themselves best to slow cooking, as do certain cuts of chicken, poultry, and game. {By the way, you can also slow cook vegetarian dishes and even desserts, but for the sake of avoiding a novel-length post I’m going to stick to red meat}.

which cut of meat should I use?

The best cuts are the ones that used to be the cheapest back before they became trendy. What you want are the working cuts of the animal, think shoulders, necks, cheeks, and shanks. On the bone is always better than de-boned, and you also want cuts that are sinewy and have a decent amount of fat, as these will both give you meat that is moist and tender.

where should I cook it?

Slow cooking is best done in a large cast iron casserole dish, a roasting dish, or in a slow cooker. With all of these methods you would usually begin on the cook-top then finish off in the oven or slow cooker. Slow cookers are fantastic for people who work all day and want to come home to something filling and hearty. Skip the cook-top searing and browning time, pop everything straight into the slow cooker, set it to LOW, and away you go.

so how does it work?

Generally speaking, and keep in mind it will depend on what cut of meat you are using and what final dish you are aiming for, I mostly go with one of two options: slow roasted in the oven, and slow cooked {braised} in the casserole dish.

For slowly roasted dishes:

Have your preferred cut of meat {pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, pork belly, etc} in the roasting dish, throw in some onion, carrots, lemons, and garlic, drizzle with some oil, and season. Cook on a high heat for the first thirty minutes, about 200 C, to seal in the juices and brown a little. Turn the temperature down to about 150 C, cover with foil, and cook for another two to three hours. Add some potatoes or other vegetables about an hour before the meat is done. The meat will slowly steam under the foil cover, producing a beautiful sauce, which will in turn cook the potatoes and give them an amazing flavour.

For a slow cooked casserole or braise:

I start by browning the vegetables, such as onion, carrot, celery, and leek with some bay leaves, in a little oil. Take them out then dust the meat pieces {large cubes work well} in some flour and sear to seal in the juices and brown them. Return the vegetables and meat pieces to the pan and de-glaze with red wine on a very high heat, scraping up all the crusty burnt bits from the pan, forming the base of the sauce. Cook on high for about five minutes, add some stock to cover everything, add seasonings, and pop it into the oven on about 150 C for at least two hours, three if possible.

So there you have a starting point. I love the casserole method as I find the cuts of meat lend themselves better to the long slow cooking process, and as they braise gently in liquid the final result is so deliciously moist and tender. All you need to serve it with is some creamy mash and some crusty bread.

Don’t forget that you can enjoy slow cooked meat in many different ways. My pulled pork burritos use a delicious slow cooked pork shoulder, or you can swap the pork for beef cubes slowly simmered in red wine {which I love even better}. A slow roasted lamb shoulder also makes a delicious filling for a pie, topped with either mash potato or golden flaky pastry. And again, you could swap the lamb for beef cheeks cooked in a rich gravy.

Here are some more slow cooked ideas:

Slow Braised Lamb Shanks

Six Hour Braised Beef Short Ribs

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder

Braised Beef In Red Wine

Pulled Pork Burritos

Shepherds Pie

Bon apetit!

6 Thoughts

  1. I’ve whipped out my slow cooker a few times in the past couple of weeks! Mind you, because I don’t use it a huge amount, I’m not ridiculously creative with it so I’m very keen to try out your tips and recipes. It might get a bit more of a workout now. Thank you so much for linking up with our Fabulous Foodie Fridays party! xx

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