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The Slow Cook Book - Foreword

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Tells you how many people the recipe serves, or how much is produced. © Provided by DKBooks Tells you how many people the recipe serves, or how much is produced.

Tells you how many people the recipe serves, or how much is produced.

Photo: Indicates how much time you will need to prepare and cook a dish in both slow cooking and traditional methods. © Provided by DKBooks Indicates how much time you will need to prepare and cook a dish in both slow cooking and traditional methods.

Indicates a dish, or part of a dish, can be frozen.

Photo: Indicates a dish is "healthy", either low in fat and saturated fat, or low GI. Healthy recipes are not high in salt, sugar or saturated fat. © Provided by DKBooks Indicates a dish is "healthy", either low in fat and saturated fat, or low GI. Healthy recipes are not high in salt, sugar or saturated fat.

Indicates a dish is "healthy", either low in fat and saturated fat, or low GI. Healthy recipes are not high in salt, sugar or saturated fat.

Photo: Indicates a dish, or part of a dish, can be frozen. © Provided by DKBooks Indicates a dish, or part of a dish, can be frozen.

Indicates how much time you will need to prepare and cook a dish in both slow cooking and traditional methods.

Foreword

I am generally not a fan of kitchen gadgets, but I have to admit to being a convert to the slow cooker. The thrifty cook in me is thoroughly excited by using the cheaper cuts of meat and beans and pulses that are so suited to slow cooking, while the ease of throwing a collection of ingredients into a pot and letting them do their own thing for hours is enormously attractive—so little effort is needed, but the rewards are great.

Our attitude toward food and cooking is changing. We seem to have a stronger desire to make home-cooked food that nourishes us and our family, as well as reining in our spending. Slow cooking is perfect for meeting this need—it suits every level of cook, especially the novice, as it is a style of cooking that doesn’t rely heavily on precision. It’s one of the most forgiving cooking techniques, requiring little time or skill from the cook. Moreover, by its very nature, slow cooking isn’t an extravagant way to cook. By choosing value cuts and seasonal produce we naturally spend less, and the running costs of a slow cooker are minimal, little more than running a low watt light bulb, consequently conserving energy.

The great benefits of the slow cooker lie in its convenience and versatility. To be able to simply “set and forget” the slow cooker has enormous advantages for our hectic lives—it can sit day or night unattended. It ticks all the boxes for such a wide range of people: those cooking for one, large families, busy moms, and it’s ideal for entertaining as it makes dinner party cooking a breeze. It can be used not only for casseroles and stews, but also to cook whole joints of meat, delicate risottos, and delicious soups. It can also be used as a water bath or bain-marie for puddings and desserts, from mousses to steamed cakes.

The practical nature of slow cooking greatly appeals to me. It lends itself to cooking in large batches, and I love being able to cook up something delicious to serve one day and perhaps freeze for another. It is extremely satisfying to know there is the option of leftovers, thus relieving that sometimes niggling pressure of knowing what we are going to cook for dinner the next night. Of course it requires some planning, as does all cooking, but through this it also reduces food waste, which I feel passionately about. Again, the thrifty cook in me rearing its head!

Although we always think of simmering pots of meat and vegetables when slow cooking is mentioned, I think it is fair to say that the slow cooker isn’t just for cold winter days. In fact, it is ideal in summer, for maybe a curry or ribs, when you don’t want the heat of the stove on all day. I’ve tried to reflect this throughout the guide so you can always find inspiration as you dip in and out throughout the seasons. To me, Creole Fish and Corn Stew or Squid Stew would be just as welcome served up on a warm summer’s evening with a hunk of crusty bread and some cold rosé wine as the Stuffed Lamb, Greek Style would be on a fresh spring day.

This guide contains more than 200 recipes for slow cooking. It includes a mixture of world cuisines, features many classics, and offers some new adventurous flavor combinations. Chapters cover Soups and Broths; Stews; Casseroles, Cassoulets, and Meatballs; Tagines; Curries; Chilis and Gumbos; Pot Roasts and Ribs; Risottos, Pilafs, and Paellas; and a Desserts chapter that includes favorites such as rice pudding and crème caramel.

Step-by-step photographs take you through the types of slow cooking from stewing to poaching as well as the principles of slow cooking. A comprehensive list is also given for the slow cook’s pantry, as a well-stocked pantry is a great asset; once you have this, you need shop for little else but the perishables.

I hope this guide inspires you to experiment with slow cooking. Let your imagination conjure up the thought of Beef and Anchovy Stew, the beef nestling in a mixture of heady red wine and robust herbs, cooked to perfection until it melts in your mouth; or a slow-cooked pork dish such as Belly Pork and Prunes cooked with earthy celery root and sage, and simmered slowly in a little wine until the pork falls apart at the touch of your fork. Just the thought of it makes me want to head off into the kitchen and reach for my apron!


Note:

All the recipes in this guide are written for the medium size range of slow cookers, from a minimum of 3.5 quarts (3.5 liters) to 5 quarts (5 liters) capacity. Allowances should be made for the differences within this size range; depending on the internal volume of your slow cooker, liquid quantities may need to be adjusted to ensure the food is covered where necessary.


A Guide to Symbols

The recipes in this guide are accompanied by symbols that alert you to important information.

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