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I am well and trully hooked on my Morphy Richards slow cooker !!
Just imagine opening the front door on a cold winter evening after a day at work and being greeted by the delicious smells of a lamb hotpot, beef stew or chicken curry wafting out from your slow cooker. But slow cookers are NOT only for winter, in the summer, using the slow cooker generates a lot less heat than from a normal oven. So at any time of year, a slow cooker makes life a little more convenient and uses less electricity. I bought my Morphy Richards slow cooker from Sainsbury's for £14.95 - the size was great anda the price I thought very satisfactory .
The Morphy Richards is a basic design with a 3.5 litre capacity which is plenty big enough for a family of four ( I use it for five when my son in law visits and it is fine) The cooker has a toughened glass lid and the pot itself is dishwasher safe and has has three temperature settings, low, medium and high. The principle of the slow cooker is that it cooks foods slowly at a low temperature—generally between 170° and 280° F. The low heat means that you can use less expensive cuts of meat and that leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrink less.
The direct heat from the pot together with the lengthy cooking and steam created inside the tightly-covered container destroy bacteria and make the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods.
In my opinion the slow cooker is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you can have in the kitchen. It means that you can add the worst quality meat, and when it has finished cooking, it will be the most tender meat you have ever tasted !!
Once you own a slow cooker you'll wonder how you ever managed without one! It is so simple to use, remember a few tips - always one half to two thirds full - too much in the pot will not cook properly , too little and the foods will cook too quickly; foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster and will be moister; chop root vegetables small and cook on the bottom of the pot as they don't cook very fast in a slow cooker; you don't need as much water as you would add if you were cooking in a pan or casserole and - most importantly - don't lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time should be extended by 20 minutes.
So basically to use your cooker, add the pot to the cooker before switching it on , add your ingredients and make sure the lid is securely in place. Switch the cooker to your required setting and a red light show that the cooker is on. That is it - the dinner will cook as you work, shop etc.
Unlike the earlier slow cookers they are now very easy to clean as the pot is removable. The pot can be washed by hand or the dishwasher , the lid isn't dishwasher safe - just hand wash and wipe down the outer casing of the cooker after use.
I am really pleased with my Morphy Richards cooker - I think the price I paid was perhaps a little under the RRP but they average at £20 and it is well worth the money.
I have taken the liberty to add a couple of my recipes that I use in the slow cooker - all of which are low fat recipes.
ALL IN ONE PORK CHOP DINNER Serves 4 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 lean pork loin chops 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup 125g sliced mushrooms 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 60mls chicken stock 2 cloves garlic, crushed ½ teaspoon salt ½teaspoon chopped basil ¼ teaspoon pepper 1 onion, sliced 4 potatoes, sliced thinly Chopped parsley In a frying pan heat oil and brown chops on both sides. Combine soup, mushrooms, mustard, chicken stock garlic, salt, basil and pepper in slow cooker. Add potatoes and onion, stirring to coat. Place pork chops on top of potato mixture. Cover and cook on Low 8 to 10 hours or on High 4 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with parsley
MOROCCAN CHICKEN Serves 4 1 Tablespoons olive oil 1 large onions, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated 3 garlic cloves, chopped 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2 carrots, sliced about ¼ inch thick (or less) 2 large sweet potatoes or white potatoes, peeled & diced 1-1 ½ inch chunks 3 fresh dates, chopped 1 teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon turmeric black pepper ¾-1 teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 cans chopped tomatoes 1 courgette, sliced 1 inch thick 1 (14 ½ oz.) can chick peas, drained & rinsed 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped 2 Tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
Sauté onions, ginger and garlic in oil for 3 or 4 minutes and transfer to slow cooker Brown chicken in same pan over medium heat. Reserve in pan Add carrots, potatoes to slow cooker Place chicken on top of veggies. Stir seasonings in a small bowl and sprinkle over chicken along with dates. . Add courgettes to the top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Add beans, parsley and coriander 30 minutes before serving
VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP Serves 4
A meal in itself!!
200g lean stewing beef 500mls water 1 small onion, chopped 2 cans chopped tomatoes 1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed 4beef stock cubes, crumbled 1 tablespoon dried basil Salt & pepper to taste Place beef in a slow cooker. Pour in water. Stir in onion, tomatoes, mixed vegetables and potatoes. Season with stock cubes, salt, pepper and basil Cook on low 8 hours.