Best dishes for your slow cooker


Now I’m sure the slow cooker is not a new concept to anyone. They’ve been around since the 1940’s and I’d bet money on your nan loving a good slow cooked meal. Despite this, they can have a bit of a bad rep and bring back childhood nightmares of terrible, stodgy meals that were eaten on repeat. You know the ones, the watery sausage casserole on a school night or congealed beef stew and dumplings…but NO MORE. That negativity ends today because to me, a slow cooker is an absolute life saver and game changer when used correctly. 

Don’t know what to cook?

If you’re stuck with the same handful of recipes, it’s time to change it up. One of my all time favourite meals to cook in the slow cooker has got to be curry. Slow cookers are for life, not just for Christmas – start getting them out all year round and giving them pride of place on the counter. The long cooking time is perfect to let spices and flavours develop and also make the most succulent and juicy meats, then all you have to do on the side is boil up a bit of rice and maybe chuck a naan in the oven if you’re feeling fancy.

I’m a tikka masala girl so I just chuck all of the ingredients into the pot and cook for 6-7 hours on low of 4-5 hours on high, depending on how impatient I’m feeling. Paneer is also a great option to use for any veggies. 

What else?

One thing a lot of people don’t know is that if you have a ceramic slow cooking pot, you can pop it in the oven! If you’re making a cottage pie filling, don’t bother making another load of washing up with a baking dish, just spread your ultra creamy PoppyCooks mash over the top and sprinkle over a biiiiiiiiig handful of grated cheddz and get the whole dish under a hot grill for a few minutes to make everything bubbling and golden. This is also a great method if you want to make something like a roasted tomato soup, so you can throw in all of your tomatoes, oil, bit of balsamic and some garlic cloves then roast the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes, then put it right back into the slow cooker and add in your stock. Wham bam, thank you maam.

Timings are key

There’s a lot of things you can put in the slow cooker and leave for hours after they’re actually cooked, especially if they’re in a sauce or broth. The things you want to keep half an eye on are whole joints of meat, so legs of lamb, whole hams or a beef roasting joint can go dry if they’re left for too long. If this happens, you can bring them back to a point by carving the meat and gently reheating on a flat tray covered with stock or your gravy, then loosely topped with tin foil. This is also a great method to use if you’re using leftover slow cooker beef for the ultimate Sunday night sandwich, stuffed with loads of horseradish, mayo and peppery rocket leaves. Chuck one of your slices of bread into the juices at the bottom of the pot when you’ve taken the beef out and you can have your own little ‘moist-maker’ a la Ross Geller.

Free up your oven

If you’re cooking a Sunday roast, instead of fighting for oven space, plonk your lovely lamb in the slow cooker and give your potatoes, carrots and yorkshire puds the space they deserve. My slow cooked leg of lamb is succulent and packed full of flavour. My biggest annoyance is when you’re trying to manage timings around space issues so this alleviates one big problem and you can even get it going the night before. We love an easy life here.

Puds and spuds 

Slow cookers can be amazing for more than your standard stews. I’ve made confit potatoes, mash and even a cheeky dauphinoise before now and it works a treat. Or if you want an indulgent pudding, a classic sticky toffee pudding or chocolate lava cake is the way to go. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, your slow cooker doesn’t need to hibernate over winter, get it used all year long.

For some proper slow cooker inspo, you can pre-order my book, Poppy Cooks: The Slow Cooker Cookbook right now. Obvs had to give my book a cheeky plug at the end.

Photography by Haarala Hamilton