People’s views on slow cookers seem to fall into two camps, Katrina Meynink writes in her new cookbook Slow Victories: those who dismiss them altogether as madness or cheating, and those so enamoured by them that it’s almost a religion. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, food lover Meynink’s guide to achieving slow-cooked glory is an absolute must-buy.
From “Fragile Fridays” to “Weekend Wanderlust”, the chapters cover every occasion and culinary desire, with delectable results. So whether you want a showstopper for a Saturday night, a winter warmer or a “chuck it all in and hope for the best” stew, here are three recipes from the book to get you going.
Bloody Mary gnocchi with pickles and hope. And cheese. And more pickles
This recipe is for when you are done. Toast. Completely finished. If you want to pan-fry the gnocchi before throwing them in, it can add a nice touch, but not doing so certainly isn’t a deal-breaker.
Combine all the Bloody Mary mix ingredients in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the gnocchi. Shut the lid. Pour yourself a wine.
Cook on low heat for 2 hours. Remove the lid, add the mozzarella, close it again and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted.
Scoop into bowls, being careful as the gnocchi will be very soft and some will break. Top with parsley, extra mozzarella and spicy pickles, if using. Serve.
If you are feeling virtuous, feel free to substitute coconut milk for the coconut cream – it will just have a thinner consistency. But, honestly, if we are going for those takeaway-style vibes, just add the coconut cream. Life is short. And it tastes amazing.
Set the slow cooker to the sauté function and add the coconut oil. Once hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic and spices. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the spices from catching. Once fragrant, add the chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, coconut cream, stock and butter. Close the lid and cook on high for 4 hours.
Season with salt. The bitterness of tinned tomatoes can vary considerably, so taste and add the brown sugar if the sauce tastes slightly bitter. Keep tasting and seasoning until you feel you have the right balance of flavours.
Serve with rice, coriander and all the good stuff: naan, poppadoms, yoghurt, pickles and fresh lime. I love to flash-fry a few fresh curry leaves and stir these through the rice, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, feel free to omit.
Poached salmon with chipotle, tamarind and maple
It feels a bit criminal putting this here. It is so simple to make, yet completely luxurious to taste. The tang of the tamarind and the smokiness of the chipotle work wonders with the sweet salmon.
You will need a large, shallow-based slow cooker for this recipe.
Set the slow cooker to the sauté function. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and, once hot, add the shallot and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Gently scoop out the mixture into a bowl and combine with all of the spices, the tamarind and maple syrup and the remaining oil. Whisk, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Gently rub the mixture into the top side of the salmon.
Wipe your slow cooker bowl clean, then line it with baking paper. This makes it easier to remove the fish after cooking, otherwise it will collapse. Gently lay your piece of salmon in the cooker, tucking the tail in on itself to create an even fillet. Carefully pour the stock around the sides of the fish so it doesn’t wash the marinade off the top. Close the lid and cook on low for 2 hours.
Check it at the 1/2-hour mark. You can actually remove it at any time from the 1-hour mark depending on how you like your salmon cooked. If you like it pink, go for a shorter cooking time. I suggest noting how long it takes the first time you make this recipe so you can get to know your slow cooker.
Serve with coconut rice and Asian greens.
‘Slow Victories’ by Katrina Meynink (Hardie Grant, £16.99). Photography © Katrina Meynink, Kait Barker