Adventures with a slow cooker

Bunging a load of ingredients in a casserole and then leaving it to transform itself into a one-pot wonder, is my kind of cooking. It’s not glamorous but it’s highly practical.

There are so many plus points:

  • You can do the preparation hours in advance avoiding that stressful witching hour just before serving up a family meal when everyone is going insane with hunger and you can’t get the dinner ready fast enough.
  • It’s an inexpensive affair. Cheaper cuts of meat like shin and shoulder work best cooked long and slow as it’s this type of cooking that breaks down the connective tissue and gives it that unctuous fork-tender falling-apart quality.
  • You can cook LOADS of the stuff and freeze down the leftovers for another meal.

So when Morphy Richards got in touch to ask if i’d like to try out their Flavour Savour slow cooker, I didn’t hesitate.

Flavour Savour Digital Slow Cooker

I was expecting a 70s throwback appliance – in my mind I had white enamel pot emblazoned with some kind of floral embellishing. Instead a sleek, shiny and pleasingly compact model arrived.

So it looked good, but how would it perform? I was hoping it would be simple to operate as I quickly lose my patience with gadgets that require a qualification in instruction manual deciphering.

Luckily, after a quick scan of the booklet I could see my luck was in. You can brown your meat on one setting and then choose to cook it on a short or long setting, and away you go. There are only two buttons to press!

Here’s a quick run-down of the Flavour Savour’s four settings:

Seal/Brown: Exactly as you’d imagine, this function operates at a fairly high heat so you can brown off your meat before you start the longer cook.  People argue over whether it’s really necessary to seal your meat before cooking a casserole, for me having browned meat looks more attractive than pasty looking meat bobbing about in the sauce. Others say it helps retain flavour and moisture.

1:30 Stew: If you haven’t got hours to spare, this is a nifty feature that allows you to cook your meal in a shorter space of time.

Slow Cook: You can choose to cook your food between 4 and 10 hours.

Keep Warm Function: At the end of your cooking time this function automatically kicks in and keeps your meal warm for up to two hours. Really handy if you’re not ready to eat the minute  it’s ready.

Storage wise it’s great. The heating element fits inside the cooking pot and the plug and cable neatly fit into the base. It takes up no more room than a large casserole dish.

Morphy Richards also set me a challenge – could I create a meal for a family of four in the Flavour Savour without spending any more than £4? Well I didn’t doubt that it could be done, but would it actually be delicious and appeal to the kids was more the issue!

I couldn’t wait to get it fired up, so I embarked first of all with a very simple sausage casserole as a test mission.

I browned the sausages in batches and softened the vegetables all on the Seal/Brown function and then added the rest of the ingredients and let it bubble gently away for the afternoon (four hours)

The resulting casserole was very tasty, looked incredibly appealing, but I found the sausages were too soft for my liking… back to the drawing board.

So next I decided to try a chicken-based supper, and this certainly could be entered for the £4 challenge that Morphy Richards set me.

I got hold of some bargain chicken legs and thighs for all of £2 and the rest of the ingredients were all stuff I already had in but don’t add up to more than £2.

The key to making a successful slow cooked meal is to make sure your cooking liquor is bursting with lots of flavours. So after browning off my chicken and softening the onion and garlic I let it bathe for six hours in chicken stock, white wine, lemon zest and dried thyme.

Looks bland, tastes anything but!

It’s absolutely NOT going to win any prizes for looks, but it tasted gorgeous.

The sauce was so damned good it virtually begged me to mop it up with a slice of bread and butter.

There was plenty of food for our family of four and enough leftovers to make two generous portions of soup which I just blitzed with the stick blender, cooled and whacked straight in the freezer.

Lazy lemon and thyme chicken
Serves 4, plus leftovers to make soup

600g chicken thighs/drumsticks, take skin off but leave bone in and season
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 leek, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
200g new potatoes, halved
500ml chicken stock
500ml white wine, the cheapest you can find
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp dried thyme
cornflour (optional)

1. Brown the meat in about 2tbsps oil and set aside, then soften the onions and garlic, then add carrot and leek and once soft put the meat back in.

2. Add the stock, wine, potatoes, lemon zest and thyme. Stir to combine and place the lid on the slowcooker and switch to slow cook for six hours.

Tip: If you feel the sauce is too runny you can use cornflour to thicken it. Mix a tablespoon of cornflour with a little water until you get a smooth liquid paste and then stir it through your casserole and continue cooking. I did this approx half way through the cooking process.

Leftovers: Blend to make a delicious soup for another day!

I’ve decided I’m going to keep hold of the Flavour Savour – it absolutely fits with my kitchen ethos for cooking on a budget with minimum effort for a family of hungry boys. There are some gadgets worth making room for. I imagine it’d also work really well in a student house, or if you’re living somewhere that doesn’t have great kitchen facilities.

I’m going to try cooking my lovely beef and dark ale stew in it this week and perhaps tweak the recipe a bit to add some different flavours.

Thanks to Morphy Richards and Home of the House Proud for sending me the Flavour Savour to review. I was not paid to write this blog post and the views expressed here are both honest and my own!

***Exclusive Reader Offer!!!***

If you feel moved to buy a 4.5 litre Flavour Savour the lovely people at Morphy Richards are offering Feeding Boys and a Firefighter fans an exclusive saving of 35%  on the Flavour Savour when they quote the voucher code: FBB8435 at the checkout stage on the Morphy website` (expires on 31st March 2011).

About Katie Bryson

Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer and blogger. She left a career in online news at the BBC to immerse herself in the culinary world, taking in courses at Leiths School of Food and Wine and an internship at Waitrose along the way. Her family food blog is bursting with recipes and tips for feeding hungry families that’ll help inspire all those frazzled parents out there wondering what on earth to cook for tea!
This entry was posted in Chicken recipes, One pot suppers, Product reviews, Sausage suppers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Adventures with a slow cooker

  1. Jan Bailey says:

    Sounds great! We are big fans of the slow cooker – which doesn’t even have to be all that slow ( I used to imagine that you had to leave it all day). I don’t even brown my meat any more – just whack it all in and wait for that tasty, super tender result, which is especially good on cold miserable days. Daughter and future son-in-law have tasted the results and have put one on their wedding gift list too!

    • Katie Bryson says:

      I’ll have to get some of your recipes from you Jan… I did a beef and ale stew in it last week but it was a bit on the runny side. Need to experiment a bit more with the amount of liquid I put in.

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  6. Recipe Chefs says:

    Great recipe. Thanks for sharing this post. I really enjoy reading your blog. Feel free to check out our recipes.

    Recipe Chefs –

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