Slow and Steady Wins the Taste...
With temperatures going down and the cost of living going up, these January days can feel a little bleak - but there’s a humble kitchen appliance, probably gathering dust in your cupboard, which might just save the day. Slow cookers have a very low wattage, with the cost of using them working out at just 5p an hour, so even cooking something for 8 hours will use less energy than an oven or hob. And it’s not just money you can save, but effort too; whilst frying your ingredients beforehand will give a greater depth of flavour, it isn’t essential, and those that find themselves lacking the time or inclination to do so can just chuck everything in raw and let the slow cooker work its magic. It’s no wonder, then, that lovers of low maintenance cooking are leaning towards the low-and-slow way of life, and we’ve noticed more and more people getting in touch about slow cooker recipes.
We’ve already adapted our One Pot Wonders to make them slow cooker-friendly (find them here!), but the real question that we’re asked time and time again is: ‘Which Legend recipes can I do in my slow cooker?’. The short answer is ‘most of them’, but the truth is, we hadn’t actually tested this theory ourselves, and we knew that some would lend themselves better than others. So, it was about time to give the people what they wanted, and lift the lid on Legendary slow cooking (on that note, don’t actually lift the lid on your slow cooker - it might make the kitchen smell amazing, but will add 20 extra minutes to the cooking time!).
Before we get going, here are some basic principles:
- Recipes that require blending to make a sauce will still need blending to make the sauce, but blending the raw ingredients is fine, as long as you cook the sauce for long enough to get rid of the raw flavour (onions being the main culprit here!). 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low should do the trick
- Lentils, potato and dairy-based dishes (cream, butter, yogurt, etc.) are all fine, just cook everything together from raw at the start.
- Liquid won’t evaporate from the slow cooker as it would with conventional cooking methods, so limit the amount of water you add. If it’s ready early, you can remove the lid for a bit to help thicken up the sauce
- Any ‘final flourishes’ - like adding lemon juice, spices, yogurt or cream before serving - should still be done at the end
- As previously mentioned, frying some ingredients at the start (like meat and onions) will add more colour and flavour, so it’s worth doing if you’ve got time. But if not, don’t stress! Most recipes will also be fine if you stick everything in raw to begin with
Follow these guidelines and you should find it pretty simple to adapt your favourite Legend recipes into hearty, hassle-free slow cooker dishes. If you’re after recommendations, though, here are our top picks, tried and tested!
Georgia: Stifado (How to Be a Mezze Legend, p118)
‘This was delicious! A really nice mild stew, with a rich flavour from plenty of red wine sweetened by the cinnamon and nutmeg in the Qarfa blend. We followed the first couple of steps as written (browning the beef, caramelising the onions, and boiling the red wine/vinegar), then bunged everything in the slow cooker and left it on a low heat for about 9 hours.
By the evening, the sauce was lovely and rich and the beef was really tender. We paired it with olive oil mashed potato and purple sprouting broccoli which made a perfect Sunday dinner on a cold January evening. Not pictured is the Yorkshire pudding which I also included (definitely not an authentic addition, but a great one nonetheless!). We ate the leftovers mixed with some fresh tagliatelle pasta, which was equally as delicious, and a nice way to adapt the meal into something completely different for a bit of variety.
I think the mild flavour and sweetness of this stew would make it a great family meal that even young children would enjoy. You could probably get away with just chucking everything in the slow cooker at the start, but caramelising the onions gave them a lovely stickiness, and reducing the red wine/vinegar at the beginning probably helped to ensure that the sauce had a nice consistency at the end - it might end up a bit liquidy otherwise.’
Robyn - Koresht with Dried Fruit (How to Be a Mezze Legend, p110)
‘It took me around 5 minutes to prep everything. I didn’t bother to marinade the chicken in the lemon juice or fry the onions and carrots - instead, I just threw everything together in the slow cooker, popped it on low, and it was ready for when I got home from work 8 hours later!
The stew had a delicious flavour and was just as good as when I’ve done it on the hob. The chicken was falling off the bone and the fruit had broken down to add sweetness to the sauce.
I wish I’d not put the full amount of water in at the start, as it caused the sauce to be slightly thin. I think if i was to do this recipe in the slow cooker again I would half the amount of water.'
Sinead - Tagine (How to Be a Mezze Legend, p104)
‘This was great! I didn’t fry anything in advance, just chucked it all in the slow cooker and cooked on high for about 4 hours. We cut the amount of Qarfa by half so the cinnamon flavour wouldn't be so strong (because my sister isn’t keen on it) but this didn’t impact on the delicious, sweet flavour.
The finished dish looked really tasty, especially with the garnishes of coriander and pomegranate seeds, which I borrowed from the jewelled couscous Mezze Legend recipe to add a pop of colour. I made this in a bit of a hurry, and it still turned out perfectly, so I’ll definitely make this again on days when I’m tight for time!’
Jake - Lamb Pasanda (How to Be a Curry Legend, p62)
'I did the first, second and fourth steps (mixing the lamb with the marinade, and boiling and blending the ingredients for the paste) as written, then added this all to the slow cooker and cooked for 4 hours on high. I stirred in the cream and Haldi and topped with the Methi and remaining almonds to finish, which gave the dish a nice appearance.
It tasted really nice due to the flavours having more time to develop, and went down a treat with the Spicery staff at lunch time!'
Marc - Vietnamese Curry (Curry Legend World Tour, p96)
'This is a lovely fragrant curry which I cooked in the slow cooker for 5 hours on a high heat. It tasted delicious and looked really good - a little liquidy, but I followed the 'goes great with' suggestion and ate it with a fresh baguette which helped to soak up the sauce! If I were to cook this again, I think I'd reduce the water and add a little more veg, but it was still a great dish nonetheless!'
Kelly - Conchinita Pibil (Pulled Pork) (How to be a Taco Legend, p88)
'I cooked this in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high. It was really great - all of my guests were super impressed and it couldn't have been simpler to throw together! I paired it with some homemade corn tortillas and the combination went down a real treat. I'll make this again and again!'