Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Views and Reviews: The Slow Cook Book

Slow cooking bible 
Rachel, Dublin

Due to a successful dinner last night, and my joy that my experiment in leaving the slow cooker running while I was at work didn't result in a burned down apartment, I felt that a short post in honour of one of my newest cookery bibles, The Slow Cook Book, was required.

I received my slow cooker as a gift and as I didn't have much experience with  slow cooking or stewing of any sort (other than Julia Child's recipe for boeuf bourgignon) I was keenly aware that my repertoire in this area was lacking; I wanted to buy a book that would cover the basics and help me to build my confidence with using cheaper, different cuts of meat than I was used to. 

I chose this particular book for a few reasons: It had pictures of most recipes which always entices me to buy, I like to see what I am trying to recreate.  The recipes are written for slow cookers of approximately the size I have, making four to six portions, rather than some of the army-sized portions I saw in other books. It provides instructions for cooking the same recipes in a conventional oven as well, useful if you do not have time to slow cook.  There is a comprehensive section at the front covering techniques and tips for using your slow cooker and it could be a good book for somebody relatively new to cooking with lots of explanations of cooking terms and photo guides for jointing a chicken, preparing vegetables and so on.

I've made three recipes from this book so far, all with great success.  Meltingly tender meat and flavoursome sauces have been just the thing for chilly winter days and the bonus of leftovers has meant I've had many tasty lunches too!  Chicken Karahi curry, pork loin braised with cinnamon and soy, and Asian beef with pak choi (below) have all turned out wonderfully and I have been surprised at how many portions I have made from very economical cuts of meat.    

asian beef with pak choi (from the slow cook book by Heather Whinney)

2.5lbs shin of beef, diced (the butcher had just sold the last of this and recommended brisket instead which he diced for me)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 whole dried chillies, I used bird's eye chillies
2 star anise 
freshly ground black pepper
175ml chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
250g pak choi, sliced lengthways
2 tbsp groundnut oil

Place your diced beef in the slow cooker.  Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and then the onion, fry until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger, chillies, star anise and season with black pepper.  Stir for a few seconds, then increase the heat to high and add the rice wine.  Let it bubble for a few minutes so that the alcohol evaporates and then add all the other ingredients except the pak choi and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture over the beef in the slow cooker and stir to ensure it is all coated, top up with water so that the level of the liquid is just above the beef (I used about 400ml).  Place the lid on the cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.  You can add the pak choi for the last hour or, as I did, steam it separately for about 3 minutes until the white stems are tender and the leaves have wilted.

I got my copy of The Slow Cook Book by Heather Whinney in Hodges Figgis, it is also available on amazon


  1. Well done! Looks yummy. I too would be very nervous about leaving it all day alone!

  2. Thanks! I did invest in a digital timer plug so that I can set it to turn off, had to do a practice run with it using a lamp to make sure I wouldn't come home to beef welded to the bottom of my pot!