What types of meat are best for the slow cooker?
While winter means shorter, darker days and colder nights, there are some benefits, especially when it comes to food! Winter is the season for your slow cooker to shine. What could be better than coming home to the smell of a delicious stew gently bubbling away?
While a slow cooker is ideal for cooking over a long period, the oven or stovetop works just as well. Whichever method you choose, remember that the key to slow cooking is low and long — a low temperature for a few hours will tenderise the meat but meat will become tough if allowed to boil.
To ensure even cooking, cut your meat into even bite-sized pieces, removing any excess fat or sinew. Coating your meat in flour first helps to produce a more appetising brown colour during cooking, and helps enhance the overall flavour of the dish. It’s also an easy way to thicken the sauce. Browning the meat in batches is also important — putting all the meat in the pan together will produce steam and prevent the meat from browning. View our How To video to see how to brown your meat before slow cooking.
When choosing the best meat for your slow cooker, avoid the leaner cuts. Cheaper, tougher and fattier cuts of meat are the ones you should look for — the fat will slowly melt away creating a tender and juicy dish that will please the whole family. Good for the budget and taste buds!
Pork shoulder is perfect for the slow cooker, especially in stews or casseroles that help to prevent the meat from drying out. The meat comes out melt-in-the-mouth tasty.
Soup is the perfect winter warmer and this Hearty Bacon Soup is perfect for the slow cooker or the stovetop. Or for a burst of beautiful colour and flavour how about this Roasted Carrot and Cumin Soup. Both soups are gluten-free and delicious.
Chicken thighs are packed with far more flavour than chicken breasts so are the go-to chicken cut for the slow cooker. To help keep the chicken thighs even more moist, use chicken pieces on the bone. Check out our Slow Cooked Country Chicken recipe.
Braised Lamb Shanks are hard to beat. This recipe was developed with the oven in mind, but works just as well in the slow cooker. Either way, sear the lamb first to ensure a delicious crust forms on the outside of the meat. Oven-baked Lamb and Vegetable Casserole is another sure-fire winner, using boneless leg lamb to ensure a tender cut of meat.
Beef is also hard to beat too when it comes to slow cooking — chuck, blade, topside, rump and silverside all lend themselves to perfect slow cooking. Check out our Beef Tagine with Roasted Cauliflower recipe using chuck steak.
Finally, it’s important throughout winter to keep up your intake of healthy veggies. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leek are in season and at their best during the colder months. This Chicken and Leek Pie is a tasty and nutritious way to feed a family and get a good intake of winter veges. Or if you’re craving a bit of spice, this Chicken and Cauliflower Curry is a low sugar, gluten-free healthy dish which tastes just great.