How to get the most out of your slow cooker: five tasty after-school meals

With a little morning prep and a timing plug, the slow cooker can save our sanity

Delicious: slow cooker chicken and savoury rice.

Delicious: slow cooker chicken and savoury rice.

 

As the temperatures get a little cooler and the schools start back, now is the perfect time to reach into the back of the cupboard and blow the dust off those slow cookers. With a little morning prep of ingredients and a timing plug to hand, the slow cooker can really save our sanity as we all gradually head back into the office and the classrooms.

If your biggest challenge is to be inspired on what to cook, I have you covered with a selection of delicious slow cooker meals. The slow cooker is such a diverse piece of kitchen equipment and a popular focus in our Family Cooking Club where members can experiment with and share recipes to make those after-school meals tasty and stress free.

Slow cooker chicken and savoury rice

– Add a drizzle of oil to your slow cooker, rubbing it around the sides to prevent the rice from sticking.
– Rinse 200g of easy-cook rice under cold water and add it into your slow cooker along with 1 diced carrot and 200g of sweet corn.
– Pour in 800ml of cold water and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of turmeric and a chicken stock cube. Give it a good mix.
– Season three chicken breasts with salt and pepper and wrap them in greaseproof paper.
– Place the wrapped chicken breasts on top of the rice in the slow cooker to steam beautifully in the greaseproof paper.
– Put your lid on and cook for three hours on high.
– After the three hours, remove your chicken breasts and shred them.
– Give your rice a good stir, add the chicken back in, then serve with crème fraiche and some snipped fresh chives.

Beef goulash

– Sprinkle 450g of lean beef pieces with seasoned flour and brown well in a pan before putting them into your slow cooker.
– Chop one medium white onion, mince one garlic clove, dice three large beef tomatoes and a red pepper and add into the slow cooker with the beef.
– Squeeze in 1 tbsp of tomato puree and sprinkle in 1 tbsp of sweet paprika and ½ tbsp of smoked paprika.
– Finally, pour in 300ml of beef stock.
– Place the lid on and cook on high for four to five hours or low for eight to nine hours until the beef is tender.
– Finish with a dollop of crème fraiche before serving some top notch food that is well worth the wait.

Manhattan cod stew

– Chop one medium onion, half a head of broccoli and slice 300g of baby potatoes in half.
– Add the onion, one bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and chopped parsley to the slow cooker.
– Squeeze in 1 tbsp of tomato puree and mix well.
– Sprinkle in 2 tbsp of curry powder and 1 tsp of paprika.
– Pour in 300ml of chicken stock, add in a tin of chopped tomatoes, then place the four cod fillets on top – make sure all the bones have been removed.
– Season with salt and pepper.
– Put on the lid and cook on high for three hours or low for seven hours.

Packed with veg marinara sauce

– Prepare your veggies: peel and dice two red onions, one carrot, and half a butternut squash; peel and crush two garlic cloves; slice two celery stalks and half a leek; dice one red pepper and four beef tomatoes.
– Add these to your slow cooker with a little knob of butter, season with salt and pepper then mix well.
– Pour in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a good sprinkle of oregano and season again with a little salt and pepper.
– Give a good mix before pouring in 200g of passata and 400ml of vegetable stock.
– Cover with the lid and cook on high for five hours or low for eight hours.
– Check the squash with a knife to ensure that it’s soft and completely cooked through.
– Add in a teaspoon of brown sugar and blitz with a stick blender until the sauce is lovely and smooth.

Honey, Apple and Pecan Ham

– In a small bowl, mix 3 tbsp of honey and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard.
– Score the fat of a 700g unsmoked bacon joint and pierce with five cloves.
– Brush the ham joint with the honey and mustard mix, reserving some for serving later.
– Place into the slow cooker along with 100g of pecan nuts and two sliced and cored apples.
– Cook on high for four hours or low for seven hours.
– Slice and serve with boiled cabbage and mash.

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