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Chef Eddie's Slow Cooker Tips

Slow cooked Beef Rib Trim

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, we want richly flavoured meals that will warm us up from the inside out. A slow cooker is a fantastic way to have these ready on time without spending hours cooking.

Get everything ready the night before so all you need to do in the morning is switch it on, head out to work and you’ll have a delicious meal ready to go as soon as you get home. If you like to be extra prepared, why not prepare everything in advance – meat, vegetables, stock, herbs, spices –and freeze for a ready-to-go dump bag. It might not sound very appealing, but you’ll appreciate it when you come home to a delicious hot meal.

We know a lot of people have a slow cooker sat at the back of the cupboard gathering dust, so we asked Chef Eddie what he would recommend to help people get the best results from it. 
Here are Eddie's top tips for getting the most out of your slow cooker:  

Choose the right cuts of meat 

Use cuts of meat that are heavily marbled. Generally, cuts that would be a bit too tough to cook normally do well - and they're cheaper! This is where cuts like Beef Shin, Braising Steak and Mince come into their own. Not forgetting our Speciality Steaks and of course, our Beef Rib Trim. 
Cooking these cuts slowly will give you richly flavoured meat that’s fall-apart tender. You could also try chicken thigh of pork shoulder, shredded between two forks for delicious pulled meat.  

Don’t overfill 

Don't overfill the pot - or underfill! Too much, and it risks bubbling over and spilling. You also run the risk of the bottom cooking quicker than the top. If the pot is underfilled, you risk the cooking being unbalanced, with some parts cooking much quicker than others. 
Between a half and two-thirds is about right to allow an even cook and keep it all in the pan! 

Brown the meat first

Sear the food first. It's always tempting to skip this step, and you can get by without it, but the difference in flavour is worth it. Browning starts off a process known as the Maillard reaction, which releases the maximum flavour. This combination of proteins, sugar and heat is what gives cooked bread its flavour, as well as perfectly seared steaks or the little crisp bits of melted cheese we all love. Try it once and you won't go back.  

Go easy on the booze 

 No, this isn’t a “don’t drink and cook” warning! Adding a bit of ale or red wine is a great choice for a slow-cooked casserole or stew. Cooked on the hob or in the oven, the alcohol will quickly evaporate leaving behind the deep flavour which will add to your dish. With the slow cooker, there’s nowhere for it to go, so it all stays in the sauce. This can taste a bit raw and overpowering. Not what we want! 

No peeking

It’s so tempting to open the lid and take a look at how your meal is doing – but resist the temptation. As the condensation around the lid creates a natural seal, this has to build up again each time you open the lid. Each time can add between 20-30 minutes to the cooking time – so be strong and don’t peek! 
What's your favourite slow cooker meal? 

Are you going to try any of Chef Eddie's tips? 

Let us know how you get on by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - #DonaldRussell