Slow Cooking: A student starter guide

Slow cooking is something we have only been introduced to this year, and it has become our go-to house meal technique at this hectic time of term. It is an absolute life-saver for busy students that want to treat friends to a delicious stew, casserole, curry or hearty meat joint, with minimal effort. All these recipes pretty much involve chucking all the ingredients in the cooker around lunch time, popping off to lectures and returning in the evening to add the finishing touches and serve. We like to think of it as our personal sous chef, one that does all the work for us whilst we get on with other commitments.

Mustard BBQ Pulled Pork Burgers

Pulled pork is my absolute food heaven and is so simple to make. Pulled pork burgers are ideal for dinner parties as you can just slow cook the pork joint for hours with minimum effort and the flavours will speak for themselves. The flavour combinations I have used here were based on my mum’s own pulled pork recipe, which, in my opinion, is pretty much the best! We have given the recipe here for sweet potato fries, which we have previously used as the accompaniment, but curly fries (pictured above) are an alternative that I sometimes opt for if I’m feeling lazy!

Ingredients (serves 10)

For the pork:

5 pound pork shoulder (costs about £10.50, find it in the butcher section of indoor market)

1 chicken stock cube dissolved in water

2 tablespoons of pepper

1 tsp of sea salt

4 large cloves of garlic

Small bunch of fresh sage or 2 tbsp dried sage

Small bunch of fresh rosemary

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

250ml bbq glaze

1 large glass of red wine

3 onions (quartered)

To serve:

10 white burger buns (sliced and lightly toasted)

Gherkins

Cheddar cheese

Side: sweet potato fries

A bag of sweet potatoes

Sea salt

Rosemary

Cornstarch

Method

Put the pork joint and all of the other ingredients into the slow cooker, making sure they are all mixed up. Set the slow cooker on ‘High’ if leaving for 7 hrs and on ‘Medium’ if leaving for 9.

(You’ve got ages to relax now – so this is a great one to put in before lunch time, then go off to the library or to lectures and come back to add the finishing touches)

If making the sweet potato fries then, during the last hour, you should get started with them.

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into chunky chip shapes or wedges, depending how you like them. Line a couple of trays with a baking sheet, and line up the fries. Don’t overcrowd them or they wont go crispy.

Rub them with a little cornstarch (this really helps them crisp up in the oven), drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and rosemary. I like to drizzle a little balsamic glaze on mine, it adds extra flavour and creates a really lovely soft texture.

Place them in the oven, turning the fries after 20 minutes. Leave for another 20 minutes. When they’re ready, they should be crispy and golden. I serve mine in little bowls, with extra rosemary for garnish.

Once the pork has cooked for 7–9 hrs it should be falling apart and very tender. Shred it up in the slow cooker with two forks and then serve in the burger buns with gherkins and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. Delicious!

Honey Glazed Sesame Garlic Chicken

We like to call this our “posh” sweet and sour chicken, although it is miles healthier than anything you’ll find in the local Durham takeaway (this picture doesn’t do it justice!). Cornstarch is the magic ingredient here, it lends that lovely glazed texture to the meat. This recipe is based on the classic General Tso chicken recipe. We serve ours with coconut rice, but it would also be delicious with the coriander-lime alternative we used in our vegetarian curry recipe.

Ingredients (serves 6)

2 packets of diced chicken breast

1 cup of cornstarch

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 1/2 cups of pineapple juice

2 tablespoons of chopped ginger

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of soy sauce

1/3 cup of vinegar

1/2 cup of sesame seeds

1 yellow pepper, 1 red pepper

1 broccoli

2 spring onions, chopped

Fresh chilli

3 cups basmati rice

1 can of coconut milk

Method

Mix the cornstarch and salt in a shallow dish, and rub the diced chicken in the mixture. Make sure it is coated as evenly as possible.

Lightly fry the chicken for 5 minutes until it is starting to brown, but don’t allow it to cook all the way through.

Mix together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic together in the slow cooker. Add the chicken and diced raw pepper. Stir to mix it well. Add 1/4 cup of sesame seeds.

Leave to cook on a low heat for 4 hours.

For the last hour of cooking, turn the heat up to high.

About 20 minutes before you want to serve, do your rice. Place about half a cup of boiling water in for every cup of rice in a large cooking pot. Add the coconut milk. Simmer for 15–20 minutes.

In the last fifteen minutes, add the broccoli to the slow cooker. If the sauce is still too thin at this point, add 1/4 cup of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water into the slow cooker mix. Stir it well, leave it to cook for another 15 minutes and the sauce should thicken.

Serve the rice as a quinelle, with a teaspoon of sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Garnish the chicken with spring onions and fresh chilli.

Coconut, Ginger and Butternut Squash Curry

We want to make sure not to leave out you vegetarians, so here is a delicious mild curry that is incredibly simple and cheap to make from Tasty Yummies. In fact, all the ingredients, for 8 people, came to just £12! A great mid-week dish to warm up your housemates, particularly when they’re struggling to think of a tasty and satisfying recipe that doesn’t involve a meaty feast.

Ingredients (serves 8)

2 butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded and chopped into small 1-inch slices)

2 onions, diced

3 cans of chickpeas

2 large tomatoes, diced

3 tablespoons of chopped ginger

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 can of coconut milk

1 carton of passata or 1 can of tinned tomatoes

5 cups of vegetable broth

Fresh coriander

3 table spoons of ground coriander

3 tablespoons of cumin

2 tablespoons of garam masala

1 tablespoon salt

Half a pack of frozen peas

Half a bag of spinach

A sprinkle of turmeric

A sprinkle of nutmeg

4 cups of basmati rice

Juice and zest of 2 limes

2 limes for serving

Method

Start by chopping your butternut squash, a notoriously difficult task. We have taken a slightly dangerous approach, chopping aggressively at the middle and then gently applying more pressure until it slices. Make sure the slices are no bigger than an inch long, and the skin is cut off.

Dice up your tomatoes and onions.

Add your squash, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, ginger, garlic, coconut milk and passata to your slow cooker. Add your vegetable stock, making sure all the squash is submerged or it wont cook properly. Cut up your fresh coriander and mix it in.

Add your spices, our recommendations are just a suggestion – spice it sufficiently to your taste! This is a mild curry, so be careful not to overpower the fragrant and delicate coconut taste with too many spices.

Leave to cook for 6 hours on a high heat.

Half an hour before serving, cook your rice. Bring the salted water to the boil then add your rice (it should be two parts water to one part rice). Leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

Just before serving stir in the butter, the lime zest, lime juice and fresh coriander.

To serve, we like to place the rice on the side to show off the vibrant green colour in comparison to the rich, orange-y curry. Serve with a fresh lime wedge and sprinkle with coriander.

Leg of Lamb with Roasted Veg Couscous and Mint Pomegranate Yoghurt Dressing

This lamb recipe is a more extravagant one for when you are really aiming to impress. The unusual addition of pomegranate juice as the main cooking liquid for the lamb is absolutely delicious and turns into a sweet, dark glaze that is a perfect match for this meat. Lamb is a relatively expensive meat so this one is perfect for special occasions when you are willing to splash out a bit. I used the BBC Good Food recipe but adapted the cooking times for the slow cooker- if you don’t have a slow cooker then follow the original instructions. Enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 6)

4 cloves of garlic

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp dried oregano

Salt & pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 kg leg of lamb (bone in)

2 red onions

1 litre carton of pomegranate juice

2 tbsp clear honey

250g natural yoghurt

100g tub pomegranate seeds

1 small bunch mint leaves

1 small bag of raisins

1 chicken stock cube

As much couscous as you need for the amount of people you are serving (approx. 80g per person) & whatever vegetables for roasting that you fancy!

Method

Mix together the garlic (crushed), cinnamon, cumin, oregano and lemon juice in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp black pepper then smother all over the leg of lamb in the slow cooker.

Place the quartered onions around the lamb then pour over the pomegranate juice. Put the slow cooker on ‘High’ and leave for 7 hours.

About an hour before you are planning to serve the lamb, roast whatever vegetables you fancy (we suggest courgettes and peppers) with a little olive oil in the oven at about 180 degrees. About ten minutes before serving, make however much couscous you need (follow serving and preparation instructions per person on the packet) with stock and raisins (my personal preference) and then mix in the roast veg when you’re ready to serve.

About half an hour before you’re planning to serve, pour out most of the meaty pomegranate juices from the cooker into a large saucepan and add the honey. Continue cooking the lamb for a further for 30 mins. Meanwhile, bubble the cooking liquid over a high heat until it has reduced to a thick, shiny sauce.

Once the sauce has reduced and you are ready to serve, pour the sauce back over the lamb.

Mix the yogurt, most of the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves in a small bowl. When the lamb is cooked and shredded, serve up with the couscous, the minty pomegranate yogurt and a side salad of your choice. Scatter over the remaining pomegranate seeds.

We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we did!

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