I do like my slow cooker, but I certainly could use it more often, if I had the time! My most recent recipe was a beef and mushroom stew with dumplings.
To make this I took some shin of beef, which I cubed and then coated in seasoned flour. This was then browned in a pan before placing it in the slow cooker. The flour not only helps with the browning process but also helps thicken the stew during the stewing process. In the pan I used to brown the meat, I then added some carrots, leeks and onions. You could at this stage adding some other root vegetables such as parsnips or swede. These were cooked in the pan for a short time before also adding to the slow cooker. I then added some water from the kettle to the pan to deglaze it, before adding it to the slow cooker as well. I then topped up the slow cooker with water to not quite cover the ingredients.
I then added a Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot. I quite like these stock pots, not just for the flavouring, but how they thicken the stew as well. One of the challenges with a slow cooker meal is that the sauce doesn’t thicken in the same way that cooking in a oven does.
The stew was then cooked in the slow cooker on the medium setting for four hours. My slow cooker has two settings, low for eight hours or medium for four hours. Though you can change the time manually.
After four hours the stew was allowed to cool and was then left overnight. I do like leaving stews or casseroles to “stew” overnight as it seems to improve the flavour.
The next day I put the stew in the “normal” oven.
I then cooked some bacon lardons in a pan and once nearly cooked added a range of mushrooms. I used chestnut mushrooms, some chanterelles that I had alongside a range of woodland mushrooms. These were cooked lightly before the bacon and mushrooms were added to the stew and stirred in.
I have been using the woodland mushrooms from Morrisons for a while now. Now I know they are not from woodlands, but are farmed, but they make a nice difference to dishes that usually use common mushrooms. The woodland mushrooms include oyster, and some others that I haven’t identified! According to the Morrisons website the pack contains three of the following: oyster, shiitake, eryngi, maitake, shiro shimeji, enoki, and buna shimeji.
Tesco use to sell wild mushrooms in my local branch, however they haven’t for a while, but you may be luckier at your own branch.
The chanterelles on the other hand were found amongst the range of exotic mushrooms mini packs that they do stock in my local Tesco. This range includes varieties such as oyster, shiitake amongst others.
On top of the stew I added some dumplings and the whole thing was cooked for about 25-30 minutes. The idea was that the dumplings would have a nice crust and the stew would be bubbling underneath.
Overall the stew was lovely, full of deep flavours. The beef was tender and melt in the mouth, whilst the vegetables still had texture. The bacon and mushrooms added a new dimension and by adding them later in the cooking stage they weren’t lost within the stew.
Yes I will be cooking this again.