Did you have a fabulous Christmas?
We did – lots of family, laughs and scrumptious food. On my wish list for the festive season was a slow cooker. I first used a slow cooker 10 years ago borrowed from a friend when our kitchen was installed but just never got round to getting my own, however now I have one I think it might just revolutionise the way I do meals.
We are quite a grown up family now, two teenagers and a 21 year old (oh and a husband!) which often means we aren’t all in at the same time to eat. Already I have found the beauty of the slow cooker is that I can leave it to do its thing and the family can help themselves as they come and go.
I, of course, turned to twitter for help first off and was sent to some fabulous blogs for recipes and ideas. Baking Queen 74 sprang to mind first as I remembered she had posted about slow cooked cakes and she soon linked me up with lots of others such as Munchiesandmunchkins.com, Farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk and Foodiequine.co.uk amongst others, so I thought I would join in with the #SlowCookedChallenge hosted this month by Farmers Girl Kitchen.
I kicked off my slow cooker adventures with a recipe from the manual which made a really tasty paprika chicken casserole which went down really well!
Next up I went for pulled pork, both twitter and a friend had recommended it and we loved slow cooked meat. I got a bit more adventurous and combined a recipe from the Baking Queen 74 blog with my friends recommended recipe. The sauce was super tasty but I think I either needed a different cut of pork (I used loin) or a longer cooking time as the meat was a little dry. However still a success with the family and we were having pork sandwiches for a couple of days afterwards – so I will try again.
I then thought I would get really adventurous and try a recipe I cook most weeks – Thai chicken curry. I just used my usual recipe and left it to cook …. slowly. It worked perfectly but no photos as I was out that night and the kids sorted themselves out fitting my flexible meal catering remit perfectly – no more pizza money needed!
So to todays recipe – having had success with using a recipe I cook regularly I thought I would try Chilli Con Carne. There are lots of recipes already online and I often pop mine in the oven if I cook it in advance – so I was pretty sure it would work.
Chilli con Carne
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions
2 red peppers
1 garlic clove
1 red chilli
500g minced beef
1 tin/carton chopped tomatoes (400g)
2 stock cubes
1 tsp marmite
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 large tin kidney beans
1/2 tsp chilli powder (I used mild but feel free to spice it up with hot!)
- Dice the onions and red peppers and finely chop the garlic and chilli. You can remove the chilli seeds if you don’t want a very spicy dish.
- In a large frying pan fry the onions over a gentle heat until they are soft and starting to turn brown at the edges
- Add the pepper and continue to cook over a medium heat for a few more minutes until the peppers also start to soften.
- Add the fresh chilli and garlic and cook for another minute stirring all the ingredients together.
- Add the fresh mince and stir in well to break it up, turn up the heat and brown all the meat.
- Sprinkle over the stock cube, paprika and chilli powder – bear in mind the slow cooking mellows the chilli flavours – so don’t be shy! Add the marmite (I love adding this, it gives a great depth of flavour but bear in mind you probably wont need salt as well).
- Give it all a good stir and cook for a minute then add the tomatoes and passata. Stir again and bring to a simmer.
- Finally drain and rinse the tin of beans then add to the rest of the ingredients. Give it all another good stir and make sure its simmering gently.
- Now time for the slow cooker to do its thing. Transfer to the cooker dish and cook for 5/6 hours on low.
We served ours in taco shells, with soured cream, grated cheese, green jalapenos and shredded lettuce. But its just as good on a baked potato or with some steam rice! Its a simple recipe and I’m sure you all have your own variations but needless to say the slow cooker is a huge success and we will definitely be having lots more slow cooked meals.