This simple and tasty recipe was floating around of facebook a couple of weeks ago and my lamb loving husband emailed me the link saying “Idea?” which is his understated and unpressuring way of saying “We should totally make this very soon!”. The following Saturday proved the perfect occasion to give it a go as we were heading out to the river for a day of ‘day camping’ where we took the BBQ and some chairs and pretended we were there for days on end, chilling out and doing nothing but chatting, eating and throwing rocks in the water. By the time we got home, this yummy lamb which had been cooking all day was ready and from slow cooker to plate, it took very little time and energy to serve. The quantities below serves at least 15 people for around $36 ($2.40 per person), so if you only need dinner for 6-8, just halve everything, which also halves the cost. But if you need to cook for a crowd after being at work or tied up with other things all day, this is a great option.
- 2kg leg of lamb or hoggett, either on the bone or deboned and rolled
- 1tbs of peanut oil
- 1/2 a cup of kecap manis (indonesian sweet soy)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 3 star anise
- 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, beaten and bruised (I use the one in the tube)
- 8 cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 large red chilli, roughly chopped
- 6 green onions, sliced diagonally and/or bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tbs of toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- 5x 200g packets rice stick noodles (each 200g packet serves three adults)
- Brown the lamb all over in a rather hot frypan using the peanut oil (or not – seriously, it’s not essential you do this), and stick it in the bowl of a slow cooker.
- In a bowl combine all the other ingredients except sesame seeds, green onions/coriander and noodles. Pour over lamb and switch to low for the whole day or high for half a day of cooking.
- When cooked through, just before serving, remove lamb from the slow cooker and sieve the juices into a small saucepan. Simmer these juices on a low heat until reduced into a sticky sauce. If it thickens too much, whisk in some water to bring back to a sauce consistency.
- Shred lamb with two forks on a chopping board and serve on top of rice noodles cooked quickly in boiling water according to packet instructions. Drizzle sauce all over, distributing it generously and evenly among the plates. Be heavy handed as it’s the sauce that makes this so good. Top with sesame seeds, shredded spring onions and/or coriander leaves. Enjoy!
This week where I live we’re having a heat wave, the temperature staying in the 40s for what feels like days on end, so I thought it worth sharing some more slow cooker recipes people have been kindly sending in. Huh? Slow cooker meals on ridiculously hot days? Have I gone mad? While it’s possibly true that I have, let me tell you why this makes sense: meals cooked in the slow cooker don’t heat up your kitchen on sweltering days, you can fill them up to make enough dinner for an extra night or two, and if you serve your slow cooked yumminess on rice, having cooked it in a rice cooker, with some greens quickly steamed in the microwave, you’ve managed to completely avoid adding to the heat in your house. Ages ago, my friend Sam sent me this very simple and tasty recipe which is perfect for hospitality: just put it on in the morning, when friends are coming over for dinner after work or church, or just divide into batches of family sized portions for freezing – for your own family or to grab at short notice when someone is in need (but do check that there are no cashew allergies among your recipients!). Doubling the recipe below two thirds fills a 5.5L slow cooker, and using the quantities below costs around $16 to make, even less when chicken breast are on special. Thanks Sam for a healthy, tasty, cheap and easy recipe. Serves 6-8.
- 3 boneless chicken breasts (approx. 750g), cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp butter (optional, I don’t use it)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 chopped green onions
- 200g sliced mushrooms (I prefer to cop my own, the thin sliced ones from the shop end up too small once cooked)
- 1 x can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
- 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ cup cashews, (approx. 100g, pre-roasted is a little nicer, but not necessary),
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
- salt and pepper
- handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Combine chicken, butter, garlic, green onions, mushrooms, soup, celery, soy sauce, and wine (if using) in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 hours, or high for four hours. Alternatively, cook in a large heavy based casserole dish with lid on at 160 degrees for 2 hours.
2. Half an hour before the end of the cook time, add the cashews into the chicken. Season well with salt and pepper. If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour suspended in water, then add to chicken, stirring well. If desired, add chopped fresh parsley just before serving. Serve on steamed rice with a side of greens.
My friend Wendy recently sent in this amazing recipe and having tried it out, I think I’ll be making it time and time again. Utilising all the benefits of a slow cooker, this affordable and tasty meal is just so easy to do. Just put the meat and marinade in a slow cooker 8 hours before your guests arrive. The accompanying apple slaw takes no longer than a standard salad to make and your guests can put it all together themselves during the meal. Wendy made this pork-tastic dinner en-masse for a church dinner recently using two slow cookers and was able to feed everyone affordably in a cinch. I recommend purchasing the pork from a butcher as mine was half the price of my local Woolworth’s. Serving 10 people easily, this recipe costs around $20, when pork is on special. Thanks Wendy!
- 2kg pork shoulder
- 1 x 375g bottle BBQ marinade (whatever is cheap, even standard BBQ sauce will do)
- 1/2 small savoy cabbage, shredded
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 small apples, grated
- 1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped (if you have it – if not, don’t stress)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of lemon squeeze or juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 20 bread rolls or french stick/baguette equivalent
- Place pork in a slow cooker and empty all the marinade over it. Replace lid, switch to low and cook for 8 hours.
- Combine cabbage, carrot, apple and mint in a salad bowl. In a separate measuring jug, combine mayonnaise, dijon and lemon juice. Dress slaw mixture with the dressing and toss well.
- Remove pork from slow cooker, and using 2 forks pull the tender pork apart
- Place fresh rolls, pork and apple slaw in the centre of the table, allowing people to put together their own pork and apple slaw rolls.
My friend Cathy is a great example of someone who practices hospitality. She knows how to make food taste good and she cares for others by unashamedly choosing do-able meals that aren’t trying to impress, but instead hit the spot in ways that don’t break the bank. Recently Cathy sent me a number of her favourite recipes that do all these things and I’m excited to share the first of these with you. The Butter Chicken recipe that follows is delightfully easy – choose to cook this crowd pleasing favourite in either the slow cooker or in a sealed casserole dish for a few hours in the oven. Doubling the measurements listed below neatly fills a 5.5L slow cooker, and doing so is my favourite time saver, fulfilling more than one purpose with just one venture in the kitchen. If you decide to make extra to freeze, here’s a tip I read in a magazine years ago: spray the inside of plastic containers with olive or canola spray before filling. This will create a film that protects the containers from the stain of the red coloured sauce. The quantities that follow serves 10 people and costs under $15 to make.
- I kg chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
- I onion, roughly chopped
- I jar of Patak’s Butter Chicken paste (not the sauce)
- I x 400g tin of diced or crushed tomatoes
- I x 420g tin of chickpeas, drained
- 150ml cream
- Handful of chopped coriander
- Brown chicken and onion in frypan.
- Put in a slow cooker or a heavy based casserole dish (covered) with the whole jar of butter chicken paste, tin of tomatoes and chickpeas.
- Cook for 2 hours in the oven, or 3 hours on high in the slow cooker or most of the day if set to low.
- Season with salt and pepper and add cream and coriander just before serving.
- Serve with basmati rice and microwaved pappadums.
- Raita (natural yoghurt mixed with grated or chopped cucumber) is also a yummy accompaniment.
Here’s another slow cooker recipe to get you through the winter months. Our family really enjoyed this because the sauce isn’t too spicy, yet it has a definite satay flavour. This satay sauce can be used with your choice of beef or chicken such as drum sticks or diced thigh fillets. Doubling this recipe will almost fill a 5.5L slow cooker and will provide you with extra meals for no extra hassle. After researching my local area, I found that Coles had the best price for chuck steak ($8 per kilo), though I have seen it cheaper on special at various places. Quantities given below serve 6+ people and costs around $12 to make.
- 1kg diced beef (chuck or rump works best)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into half moon shapes
- 1 400g can lite coconut cream
- 1 tab ground cumin
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander flakes (or fresh if you have it)
- 2 tabs soy sauce
- 2 tabs lime juice (I use squeezie from the fridge)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 250 grams good quality peanut butter, (homebrand won’t do in this case!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place beef or chicken in the slow cooker along with the onions, carrots, spices, lime juice, garlic and peanut butter. Mix well to coat the meat in the flavours.
- Pour coconut cream over the seasoned meat and again, mix well.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Check the flavour and season according to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on rice or mashed potato with steamed snow peas, broccoli and capsicum.
Beef Stroganoff is a winter staple in our house. It’s a great choice for warming up on a cold night and it’s the sort of dish that stretches easily to accommodate others at the last minute. The recipe that follows started out as a Woman’s Weekly recipe from the 80’s but has morphed over the years into something that works in the slow cooker and takes my family’s tastebuds into account (we like it quite tomatoey). Please know that this recipe copes well with the addition of veggies such as carrots and green beans, which stretches it even further and improves the nutritional value – simply throw them in the slow cooker about an hour before serving. If you don’t have a slow cooker or need to make this in the late afternoon, simply halve the amount of beef stock and cook the whole thing in an electric frypan. The only catch is, that you will need to let it simmer away for no less than 1 hour to ensure the beef is nice and tender. Finally, a couple of comments about slow cookers: remember the versatility of using a slow cooker. I’ve often made this recipe after dinner when there’s less disruption and let the stroganoff cook overnight on low. In the morning it’s ready to divide up and freeze, refrigerate until dinner time or even give away to someone who needs it. Also, it’s important to know that getting something like this going in the slow cooker can take a good half an hour (though, that’s all it will require of you), so consider increasing the quantities to completely fill it – providing you with lots of meals for the future and the most economical use of your time. Doubling this recipe completely fills a 5.5L cooker. With the quantities listed below this dish will cost under $15 and serves 8.
- 1kg beef – rump (dearer) or chuck (cheaper) steak, diced or cut into thin strips
- 3/4 brown paper bag mushrooms, peeled and quartered
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- half cup plain flour or cornflour
- olive oil for browning
- 2 cups beef stock
- half a large jar tomato paste
- half cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss strips of beef in flour and brown in a frypan on very high heat, a little at a time until the whole batch has been browned.
2. Add sliced onions, garlic, mushrooms, stock, tomato paste and stir well. Allow to simmer for a few hours or put it all in the slow cooker on LOW for around 8 hours.
3. Just before serving, stir through the sour cream and serve on either rice or fettacine.