WHETHER YOU’RE USING A SLOW COOKER, OR COOKING IN A CASSEROLE DISH IN THE OVEN, THERE ARE A VARIETY OF BEEF AND LAMB CUTS AVAILABLE WHICH WILL PRODUCE TENDER, JUICY AND SUCCULENT FAMILY MEALS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU TOO; MEALS COOKED SLOWLY RETAIN MAXIMUM NUTRITION AS WELL AS DEVELOPING A DELICIOUS DEPTH OF FLAVOUR. DON’T LET THE TIME PUT YOU OFF; THE PREPARATION IS QUICK AND EASY THEN THE OVEN OR SLOW COOKER TAKES CARE OF THE REST.
Cut the meat in to cubes.
Oil the meat then brown in a frying pan over a high heat, then transfer to a casserole dish / slow cooker. This is best done in small batches which will help the meat brown evenly rather than stew or burn in the pan. Repeat with seasonal vegetables.
Remove excess fat from the pan and add stock or liquid. Stir well then pour over meat and vegetables. Liquid should almost cover the meat.
Cover dish tightly then cook according to the recipe.
TIPS FOR TOP RESULTS
USE THE APPROPRIATE CUT:
Cuts with a certain amount of marbling and gelatinous connective tissue retain juiciness better than very lean cuts when cooked long and slowly. Economical cuts of beef and lamb will cook to perfection when cooked long and slow.
BROWN MEAT FIRST:
This not only improves colour but also develops flavour.
COVER THE DISH TIGHTLY:
A tight fitting lid holds in the heat and liquid and makes the meat tender.
CHECK FOR READINESS AT REGULAR INTERVALS:
Over-cooking can make the meat dry and stringy. If the meat is ready but the cooking liquid has not reduced enough to give a good sauce consistency, remove the meat (keep it covered so the surface does not dry) while you complete the sauce. Then return the meat to the hot sauce.
How to convert a regular recipe for the slow cooker
As a general rule, 1 hour of simmering on the cooktop of oven equates to approximately 5-6 hours on low or 2-2.5 hours on high in a slow cooker.
As there is little evaporation when cooking with a slow cooker, you need to reduce the amount of liquid. As a general rule, reduce the liquid (such as stock, wine or water) by about half of the original amount. A maximum of two cups of liquid will generally be enough for most slow cooker recipes (except soups).