You might be longing for the warmer days of summer, but don’t wish away these cold spells as they hold plenty of potential for snuggly evenings enjoying delicious and shockingly easy slow cooker meals.
The best part about slow cookers is that you simply put all your ingredients in together, set the timer and let them work their magic. So, if you’ve been on the fence about investing in a crockpot or simply want some new inspiration for your existing one, read on for recipes guaranteed to warm your cockles, without requiring any real culinary skill, this winter.
The ultimate beef stew
A hearty meal awaits when you add cubed beef, a selection of root vegetables and a rich stock to your slow cooker. You can even use frozen ingredients, as the extended cooking time will ensure thorough warming. Iceland’s reviews are positive for both veggies and meat, and we recommend adding a few shallots into your recipe too. They work so much better than white onions, being sweeter and more delicate and can simply be thrown in whole – simply peel and go! You can even add in dumplings, but do this towards the end, as they will puff up and form a delicious ‘lid’ on your stew that makes for a really pleasing serving.
Comforting, tasty and as spicy as you want to make it, lentil dahl should never be rushed, which is why it’s the perfect winter warmer for making in a slow cooker. You really want your lentils to soak up every nuance of flavour, so a lower heat over a longer period is the way to go. Use brown lentils for a more earthy taste or a mix of brown and green works well too. A lot of people only use red lentils, but there are no hard and fast rules. Fresh chillies can be unpredictable in terms of heat, so try yours before you dice and add and never, ever forget the garam masala as it gives you such a fragrant end result. For super-rich dahl, don’t be afraid to add coconut milk to your stock, just before serving. It ups the creaminess beautifully and brings everything together. Lentils in themselves are wonderfully healthy, so you can afford a little indulgence at the end.
You don’t need to be feeling poorly to crave chicken soup (though it has been shown to make you feel better) and thanks to the magic of a slow cooker, you can experience the magic of an authentic, homemade soup that puts everything in a can to shame. We recommend using whole chicken portions, especially thighs as they are fatty and flavourful. If you have time, give them a quick sear in a pan to brown them off but if not, simply add to your slow cooker, chop and add your veggies of choice, then top up with stock, season and finish with a bouquet garni. About 30 minutes before serving, take a fork and remove all the meat from the bones, stir through a swig of heavy cream, add more seasoning if needed and get ready with the crusty bread.
Slow cooker lasagne is amazing as it looks and tastes like you’ve laboured over it for hours! In reality, all you needed to do was assemble it in the pot and leave it until dinner time. Genius!
The simplest way to go is to use shop-bought red and white sauces (vegan versions are also freely available), then get your favourite chopped vegetables ready, cheese if you like it and some lasagne sheets. Mix your veggies and red sauce together. Start with a layer of pasta on the bottom of your pot to create a nice base that will make for easier serving. Top with a layer of red sauce, another pasta layer, then a coating of white sauce (with cheese if you are using it), then more pasta and repeat the layering like this until you reach a good depth. Always finish with white sauce and cheese, for an authentic aesthetic.
Whatever your dietary preferences, you’re sure to find these meals filling, comforting and most of all, shockingly easy to make.