It’s that time of year where slow cookers are working their magic, although I use my slow cooker all year round! I love slow cooking……………………
Slow cookers are fantastic for “wet” cooking or stock based cooking as well as “dry” cooking. By dry cooking I mean rubs and marinades where there is little moisture in the pot except for the rub or marinade and the moisture in the meat.
Wet slow cooking is what most slow cooking cooks know, using good stock and wine, or water in the case of corned meat is fantastic for cuts of meat with little fat or that have more connective tissue. The beef cuts I am referring to are topside, silverside, corned silverside, corned brisket, knuckle/round steak, oyster blade, osso bucco and skirt, these cuts can be used as whole pieces or steaks. Ensure to completely emersion the cuts in the stock/wine when wet cooking, it gives an even tender result. Lamb, I like to cook forequarter chops and chump chops wet or dry slow cooking. There is enough fat in the chops that allows dry slow cooking to work and there is nothing better than lamb or mutton chop ragout or stew!!
I love to do topside steaks in stock and red wine. When cooked, I carefully lift out the steaks with an egg lifter (they will fall apart) and keep warm covered in the oven, reduce the cooking juices and make into a reduction to pour over the steak, serve with creamy mash and greens. Or reserve the juices for the next wet slow cook piece and have the steak as a steak sandwich with your regulars of caramelised onion, home-made relish or a good mustard, a good soft cheese, rocket and cherry tomatoes. The slow cook cut becomes summer fair.
Dry slow cooking is essentially the equivalent to oven slow cooking, with dry slow cooking in a slow cooker it is a little more forgiving than oven slow cooking. The moisture of the meat is trapped in the slow cooker although it is possible to overcook the meat. Dry slow cooking is great for cuts which a higher component of fat, that is, they contain more moisture in the cut.
I like to keep my rubs and marinade simple, when using our Saler beef or Ryeland lamb, I want the flavour the meat to shine. Our ryeland lamb is succulent almost sweet, the fat is superb. I dry slow cook cuts such as whole shoulder and leg (whole or half) and shanks, rubbing the cuts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. After the meat is cooked in the slow cooker, I will do a quick burst in the oven to give the outside just a little crunch and browns it slightly. Lamb ribs (the part of the rib trimmed off when making a lamb rack or lamb cutlets) is divine when dry slow cooking. I use a Chinese inspired marinade or lemon/thyme marinade, slow cook for approximately 6hrs as a whole piece and finish off in the oven, brushing on more marinade. When done cut the rib into single or double ribs and eat with your fingers. This is fantastic summer time recipe.
Beef, whole roasting pieces of chuck, blade, rolled brisket, spare ribs, shin (gravy beef cut into the muscle group as a whole piece) again just rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. This type of cooking lends itself to presenting a whole piece of meat to the table, winter or summer, serve with vegetables or salad. The meat can be “pulled” or cut put over a crispy salad again summer time fair, you can see my slow cooker never gets a rest!
Slow cook cuts are so versatile, and provide fantastic flavour. Don’t pack away your slow cooker for summer, use it overnight and you will be the slow cook king or queen all year round!!!!