You may think of a slow-cooker as being a bit old fashioned. Certainly the books that I have managed to get hold of, seem a little dated. But in our current economic situation and with people living increasingly busy lives, a slow-cooker has never been more relevant.
First of all it is an incredible economical way of cooking. Even though it is on for a long period of time, it is set so low that it uses very little electricity. It is cost effective as it only heats up the pot you are cooking, unlike a oven.
Secondly, it allows you to go out - go to work, pick up the kids, go shopping, what-ever. Once you have filled your pot, set the time you are free and can forget all about dinner until you are ready to eat it. It will even keep it warm for you, if you are late.
Thirdly, because of the long slow cooking method it is perfect for the cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thighs instead of breast, works best. Shoulder of lamb, which is much cheaper than leg or fillet, is wonderful, as the excess fat melts away and acts to moisten the meat. The cheapest cuts of beef - skirt, chuck, brisket and flank all shine, as the slow-cooker transforms tough meat to something that is melting and tender. But even thought these are cheaper cuts, please do not settle for cheap meat. Chicken should always be free-range, pork must be out door-bread and make sure that your cuts of beef and lamb are nice chunky, well marbled pieces. Small bits of meat with not enough fat will only end up dry.
Finally, as it is only one-pot cooking, it means less hassle and less washing up.
Most of my favourite recipes are the slow cooked ones, French classic from boeuf Bourguignion to Coq au Vin, Catalinan Stews and all sorts of curries from all over Asia. Slow-cookers are relatively cheap to buy and the best thing of all is coming home to a hot, delicious meal, all ready for you.
Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom and Leek Pie
Poached Smoked Bacon with New Potatoes and Mustard Sauce
Beef stew with Anchovies and Thyme
Chicken with Peppercorns and Shredded Ginger
Arroz con Pollo
Phở Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Fennel Sausages Braised with Lemony Potatoes and Bay Leaves
Slow-cooked Spiced Leg of Lamb with Coriander and Butter Beans