NOTHING BEATS SLOW COOKING when it comes to convenience. With minimal preparation, simple ingredients and just one pot, you can set and forget, then enjoy hearty, wholesome meals every night of the week.
Indulge in the joy of preparing simple, sustaining meals, with a healthy dose of family favourites in the mix, too. From tagines and tacos to pot roasts, pies and puddings, all recipes include conventional stovetop or oven instructions as well as those for slow-cooker machines. These dishes, even if they’re new to you, will give you the warm, fuzzy feeling of having come home.
In the spirit of a traditional cacciatore (an Italian hunter-style stew), tomatoes, white wine and olives are included here, but instead of chicken I use pork. Be sure to use a fattier cut like forequarter chops so the pork stays nice and juicy; spare ribs are a great alternative, or even try diced pork scotch fillet.
- 4 pork forequarter chops (about 1 kg) or spare ribs
- salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 2 sage sprigs, leaves picked, plus extra crispy sage leaves to serve
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine (such as chardonnay)
- 400 g can whole peeled tomatoes
- 80 g kalamata olives, pitted
- 5 cm piece of lemon zest
- crusty bread, steamed or baked rice, pappardelle or mashed potato, to serve
- Season the pork with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium–high heat. Add the pork and cook for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden brown, then remove from the pan. Add the onion, garlic and sage and sauté for 2–3 minutes to soften and colour. Deglaze with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to detach and mix through the caramelised bits.
Add the canned tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon. Three-quarter fill the empty can with water and tip that into the sauce, along with the olives and lemon zest. Nestle the pork in the sauce and cover with the lid. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 45–50 minutes until the pork is tender.
Top the pork cacciatore with crispy sage leaves, if desired, and serve with crusty bread, steamed or baked rice, pappardelle or mashed potato.
Slow cooker method
Heat the slow cooker on high, then follow steps 1 and 2.
Pour the onion mixture into the slow cooker and add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the olives and lemon zest. Nestle in the pork, cover and cook on high for 2½–3 hours or on low for 6 hours, or until tender.
Follow step 4.
When done well, a crème brûlée is a thing of beauty – silky smooth and just-set custard with a glass-like crust of sugary toffee. A quick tip: if you’re wanting an extra shattering effect on the toffee, blowtorch one teaspoon of caster sugar, sprinkle over more sugar and blowtorch again, then do this one more time.
- 2 vanilla pods, split and scraped
- 500 ml (2 cups) cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 115 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar, plus 80 g (1/3 cup) extra for the crust
- boiling water
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Place the vanilla pods, seeds and cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and stand for 10 minutes to infuse.
Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale and thick. Using a fine sieve, strain the vanilla cream into the egg mixture and whisk to combine thoroughly. Pour the custard into a large jug and use a spoon to remove any froth on the surface.
Place four 250 ml (1 cup) capacity ramekins in a deep roasting tin and pour the custard into the ramekins. Carefully transfer to the oven and pour boiling water around the ramekins into the dish, to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil. Close the oven door and bake for 40–45 minutes until the custards are just set and have a slight wobble in the centre. Remove the ramekins and cool completely before placing in the fridge to chill for 4 hours or, even better, overnight.
When ready to serve, evenly scatter 1 tablespoon of extra sugar over each custard and blowtorch until golden. If you don’t have a blowtorch, simply place under a preheated oven grill until the sugar caramelises.
Slow cooker method
Follow steps 2 and 3.
Place four 250 ml (1 cup) capacity ramekins in the slow cooker. If you need to add height to fit all four ramekins, add layers of foil and a small wire rack to the slow cooker to reach the desired height. Pour in enough just-boiled water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the custard into the ramekins, cover and cook on high for 45 minutes, or until the custards are just set and have a slight wobble in the centre.
Remove the lid and turn off the slow cooker. Stand for 30 minutes to allow the custards to cool slightly. Remove the ramekins and cool completely before placing in the fridge to chill for 4 hours or, even better, overnight.
Follow step 5.
The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Rob Palmer