One of my most exciting and eagerly anticipated presents for my birthday was a slow cooker (thanks Ma & Pa).
Growing up we had an aga, popping stews into the bottom oven and leaving for several hours was the norm, heavenly thick and creamy rice pudding with a crispy skin that we all fought over was a particular favourite. The only problem was that once the aga door is closed no delicious smells can escape, therefore occasionally the much anticipated meal is all but forgotten as there is no tantalising aroma to remind us, my Aunt's carbonised Jam Tarts being one memorable event and the Venison Stew that dried up and left a very thick and rich meaty tar like layer at the bottom on the pot another. We moved house and had a cooker with a gas hob I was in heaven, I had dreamed of stir frying dishes over controllable heat, not just hot or very hot with the aga, it took several years for my enthusiasm of quick and flashy hob cooking to wain and to go back to oven and slow cooking methods, this is why at the age of 38 I now have my first slow cooker.
For the first test we decided on a Beef Goulash - using the recipe provided in the instruction manual.
500g Stewing Beef, coated in seasoned flour
1 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 red pepper chopped
200ml beef stock
1 tbs tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp paprika
Fry in a pan the onion, pepper carrots until soft, remove from pan and put to one side, then fry the beef until browned, add the puree, paprika, tomatoes and stock. Put the veg back to the pan and bring to a simmer or a minute or so and then transfer into the slow cooker. Then forget about it for 5-7 hours! I served with peas and roasted potatoes. The meat was so tender it fell apart in your mouth. I have already produced another beef stew, this time with loads of chestnut mushrooms and cannot wait to try other dishes. Preparing in the morning and returning home after work to the welcoming aroma of scrumptious food, just waiting to be devoured.