Facebook post 23 Oct 2016.
I was very kindly donated a lamb breast joint to experiment with. After meticulously removing as much fat and connective tissue as possible from the raw joint, was left with ½ kilo of meat. Wore surgeon’s gloves to dissect the meat. Took 45 minutes with a very sharp knife, but it’s really worth it for the quality. Browned it off in a pan.
Soft-fried two onions. This went into the slow cooker, plus a tin each of chopped toms, kidney beans and garden peas, ½ teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, mint and parsley and a mug of chicken stock. On ‘high’ for 4 hours.
My slow cooker simmers at that setting, different makes vary so may need shorter or longer – just make sure the meat is cooked. (Thanks, Anna, who gave me the thing. I’m a convert already.)
It worked! The lamb was tender, not chewy. I’d accidentally used ‘beans in chile sauce’ (not the usual red kidney beans that have to be rinsed) and they worked really well.
I boiled the potatoes separately to preserve their flavour and visual appeal. Pleasantly surprised that this came in at under £1 – at equivalent Tesco price for the meat and including electricity, four servings at something like 80p each.
Facebook post 19 Oct 2016.
Someone has kindly gave me a ‘slow cooker’, although I don’t really have any idea what it is or how to use it. Did some internet digging …
Originally a 1950s invention (inspired by a Jewish custom) intended for cooking beans and called a ‘Simmer Crock’ or ‘Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker’, the modern slow-cooker appeared in 1971 under the brand name ‘Crock-Pot‘. A bit like ‘hoover’, originally a brand name with a capital letter, the term ‘crock-pot’ is has become a noun for these things in general regardless of the actual brand.
They work by cooking at a low temperature over a long period. No boiling or simmering, but just hot enough to cook the food – slowly. It is the second cheapest way of cooking after a microwave. If something costs 5p to cook in a microwave, it’ll cost 10p in a slow cooker, 25p on the hob and 50p-£1 in the oven.
Definitely the most economical way of cooking ‘cheap’ meats – the long time at a low temperature tenderising them well – and poultry (thanks to my virtual brother-in-law for this information). Just drop the whole bird in, no need to add water or anything, and it cooks in its own juices. When taken out the meat almost literally falls off the bone.
I have used my slow cooker many times since then and love it. The simplest way to cook a raw chicken – 7 hours overnight does it. Reputedly not the best way to cook vegetables because the long cooking time reduces flavour and nutrient value, but as I prefer my vegetables raw or only lightly cooked, I’ve yet to put that to the test.
He’s fine, by the way, purely used for modelling purposes.