With the colder months approaching its time to embrace warming, nourishing stews and soups. Slow cooking is one of the easiest, most nutritious cooking methods as the nutrient rich, natural juices from vegetables and meats are retained, and as you can prep and set you can go to work or do the school run and return to a pot of ready made goodness!
I love to cook a large batch on the weekend, and then freeze any excess for smaller dinner portions for the upcoming weeks.
Meat -opt for secondary cuts as the higher fat content lends well to slow cooking. They are also more likely to be more nutritious and cheaper than the more popular leaner cuts: lamb shanks, lamb necks, shoulders, osso bucco, oxtail, whole poultry or chicken thighs
Vegetables –base of 1-2 brown onions or leeks and up to a whole garlic then then add root vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes, parsnips, and then softer vegetables such as celery, mushrooms, fennel, zucchini, yellow squash, beans, eggplant
Flavour with any combination of herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, coriander, bay leaves or warming spices such as star anise, coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, paprika, caraway, cumin, nutmeg, black pepper, allspice and salt. Add a small amount of sweetner- maple syrup, rapadura sugar, palm sugar, dried fruit or extra carrots & parsnip. Other extras flavours options are olives and capers (Mediterranean) dried fruit and preserved lemon (Middle-Eastern), ginger, chilli, fish sauce, tamari, kafir lime leaf, lemongrass and coconut milk (Asian)
Acidic medium • Add a generous splash of vinegars: rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, wine vinegar or wine or citrus: lemon, lime or orange juice
Tomatoes: either fresh, diced tomatoes (or tomato puree or paste)
Optional grains suited to slow-cooking such as pearled barley, rice or quinoa
1. Prep and chop all your vegetables and have all ingredients assembled before you start.
-Optional: place the meat in a large bowl, toss it in some flour or arrowroot powder until it is covered completely. Shake off the residual flour and place the meat onto a plate or board. (This step helps to thicken the broth).
2. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Place a large pot over high heat, add some ghee or coconut oil and allow it to heat up. Once hot carefully transfer your meat to the pot and sear each piece on every side, allowing some good colour to develop, before returning the meat to the board.
4. Add onions to the same pot and sauté for several minutes over high heat.
5. If using carrots or celery, add them to the pot and continue to sauté, then add any garlic or whole spices. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. ‘Deglaze’ the pot by adding your acid (e.g. wine or vinegar) and letting it cook off for a minute or two.
7. Add the meat, any firm vegies, flavours and enough water to cover.
8. Cover and simmer on low heat, or transfer to a 130C oven for 2-5 hours. Limit poultry to 2 hours, as it will become progressively drier, whereas red meat will usually become tenderer, the longer you cook.
9. If you’re planning to include ½-1 cup of grains, add them 1 hour before you finish cooking. 10. Shortly before you finish, use a ladle to skim the fat from the top of the liquid by using a ladle. Save this as flavouring for another dish.
11. Add any tender or green leafy vegetables and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.