I wasn’t going to put this blog on, with the thought I might upset someone but then I was watching ‘come Dine with Me’ last night and witnessed a couple putting frozen chicken chunks in to a slow cooker with a tin of chicken soup and a splash of cheap plonk – – ‘ that’s how wars start – there should be a law’ – – – – –
Don’t get this wrong slow cooker lovers but I think all slow cookers should be shoved on the scrap heap along with teas-maids and bread makers and then all scrunched up and recycled in to chop sticks that non-Chinese people are made to use to eat Chinese food along with some gigantic fish slices because every house hold needs one of em.
When renovating Lodge Farm we lived in a caravan and so I took it upon myself to purchase a £15 slow cooker – – I was so please with myself, imagine all the meals I could produce for my family in a matter of ignoring hours. However the reality was different – my first dish came out watery like one of my old nana’s stews. There was a few to follow but nothing tasted like the real thing – My last dish lacked punch, flavour, meat texture and thickness regardless of my cheffy efforts.
Since my short lived slow cooker days I’ve often been served some overcooked monstrosity produced in an electric pot, stewed to one inch of its fibrous, taste lacking life.
Since shoving my cooker to the back of the cupboard along with the apple corer and my 50 piece Chinese sculpting knife set, I’ve realised that’s it’s not quick and it’s certainly not convenient unless you go for a 6 hour walk and come back fancying chunky soup.
Have you ever wondered why chefs don’t use slow cookers in restaurants, why Buffalo haven’t invented a bigger one for food establishments, why Michelin starred restaurants don’t say “Electric Slow Cooker aged beef done three ways in its own juices” – it’s because they are poop.
I understand for convenience they are just about acceptable, for lust lacker convineient family meals, when you’re stuck in a caravan, when you’re a hill billy, when your 80 with rheumatoid arthritis and a dog called Derek, when you simply can’t be arsed to do it properly because you’re going to work for 10 hours and want something warm when you come home. When your out of dog food or simply when you’ve lost the will to cook.
Say for instance a beef casserole with dumplings is on your to do list for Sunday lunch – what better than a butchers bag full of chuck steak, a tad fatty and rich red. Add to that some local ale and a bountiful supply of herbs and veggies from the patch (or in my case Sainsbury’s) and blend in a few chosen spices from the cupboard.
– – – – – – – Seal the meat in good old fat, lock in the flavour – build the flavours up in sequence, sauté to marry all the ingredients together and then top with some ale. Slow cook in the oven for no more than 2 hours, allowing the beef to render down to a soft bite but still retaining its shape, while the juices thicken naturally with the heat. What’s left is perfection in a bowl – beef with texture, veggies with bite, spices you can taste, a sauce rich and thick. There really is no comparison with a 6 hour, watery, over cooked stew cooked in a slow cooker.
I know, I know, I know – I can hear a few of you telling me what for and I understand your point of view, after all I’ve got one and used the bloody thing for a year but for me I’ll stick to the medieval method of stewing and on top of that I’ll make my bread in the oven like the good old days – while I stick on the radio, wiggle a bit to the beat and knead my blues away, looking forward to sitting down with my family for some hearty winter stew, soaked up with a crusty sour dough loaf.
Cookery courses are optional – www.cookerycoursesnorfolk.co.uk