I believe my mother has plans to cook a special meal for dad tonight as he has been away for the week. She did say she was cooking some neck chops in the slow cooker ….then sent me through this recipe….
1. The White Hat Weekday Slow Cooker Recipe
Put on some coffee and look in the fridge for those cheap cuts of meat you bought several days ago. If there is nothing there, try the freezer – a slow cooker can both defrost then cook. Look in the crisper and pantry for vegetables. Vegetables that are half dead can but chopped roughly and go into the crock pot. Vegetables that are three-quarters dead can be set aside to make a vegetable stock in the crock pot tomorrow. Vegetables that are dead can go to the chooks or the worm farm or the compost. Turn the crock pot on low.
Sit down and have your coffee. Once your eyes have focussed it’s time to think what sort of meal Vera (or Pedro) is going to cook. (We recommend you give your stockpot a name). Once you have a rough idea of what style of dish you want – put on your shoes it is time to add some liquids. There’s the half glass of wine on the coffee table from last night when you fell asleep watching that riveting educational documentary. If you are making a dark stew or chilli con carne then the last quarter cup of your espresso coffee will add some body (but don’t try this with instant coffee or milk coffee). Maybe some light stock (no need for heavy stock – the slow cooking will produce enough concentrated flavours) or even water. Most Mediterranean or Middle Eastern dishes will welcome a can of tomatoes. Once you have put on your hat it is time to think of basic flavourings. Smoked paprika? Curry paste? Bay leaves? Lemon Myrtle? Enough to get the basic theme going. If you are using chilli or garlic they don’t need to be chopped finely – slow cooking will spread and mellow their flavours. Time to do up your top button and head off to work.
During the day when your colleagues are talking about what they are doing that night, you can casually drop “Oh, Pedro is cooking Navarin de Mouton for me tonight.”
Home from work. When you open the door you will know from the aroma how successful you have been. The first thing to do is to give it a stir and make sure everything is coated with the liquid then have a taste. Your first reaction will be “that definitely needs some wine”. Red or white – it doesn’t matter – it always needs some wine – and now that the bottle is open it would only be sensible to have some yourself. Undo your top button, put a saucepan of water on the stove and settle down on the couch to ponder what flavours and seasonings are lacking. When you have finished your wine, take off your hat and go and chop some potatoes for the pot – slow cooked meals always go well with mashed spuds – and maybe dice a few of your crisper vegetables and throw them in the slow cooker. They will help add a bit of freshness and texture. Adjust the seasoning – salt, pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce etc – whatever you think is needed. Pour yourself another glass of wine, sit down on the couch and take off your shoes. now you’re ready for the evening – a partner coming home from a lousy day at work; kids rushing through for a fuel stop; unexpected guests; a night at home watching third rate television – you’ve got them all covered.
Once the problems of the day have started to go a little fuzzy around the edges and assumed their proper and minor place in the great scheme of things, it is time to attend to the potatoes. You don’t have to be scientific about this – if you have taken them off too early and they resist the onslaughts of mashing implements only to lie in the bowl defiantly staring up at you, bruised but not mashed, then they are called “smashed potatoes” – very fashionable at the moment. On the other hand if they are already disintegrating, half the work has been done for you. In either case add some milk and butter. Because I go out of my way to have a healthy diet I usually add low cream milk and unsalted butter. Chop up some fresh herbs – parsley, chives, spring onions – whatever you have in the crisper. Add some to your potatoes and mix through and reserve the rest for your slow cooked dish. Taste your potatoes and adjust the seasoning – I usually find mine need some cream and a fair amount of salt.
There is no delicate way to serve this stuff. A splodge of mashed spud on one side of the plate and a splodge of your slow cooked creation on the other. Sprinkle with your chopped herbs and maybe grate some lemon zest over the top and you have a meal costing a few dollars that is fit for royalty. All bones should have the last vestige of meat gnawed off them and any marrow should be sucked from the remaining bones so maybe it is more your Henry VIII sort of royalty than your QE II. http://www.whitehat.com.au/Food/Techniques/CrockPot.asp
…hope dad will be OK.
I like the idea of giving my slow cooker a name but as I have two large slowcookers and one double slow cooker… I will need four names! Suggestions would appreciated.