Biggest Slow Cooker Myths Busted

Biggest Slow Cooker Myths Busted

In order for me to bring the wonder of the slow cooker to the modern world with my new cookbook ‘Modern Slow Cooker’, I need to bust some old slow cooker myths first!

Slow cooker food is watery. Slow cooking requires a whole new way of thinking about food. You can’t take a standard oven or stovetop recipe and expect it to work in a slow cooker – it is going to be watery! That’s because, unlike most cooking methods, a slow cooker doesn’t allow for any evaporation, so you need much less liquid than you would otherwise. Unless you’re really confident with your slow cooker, stick to tried and tested recipes designed for a slow cooker – let me make the mistakes so you don’t have to!

Slow cookers overcook vegetables. Here’s the truth: slow cookers don’t overcook vegetables, people overcook vegetables. Follow the times specified in my cookbook and layer the ingredients exactly as I’ve specified and I promise – no overcooked veggies.

You only use a slow cooker for long cooking times. It’s called a slow cooker, not a long cooker! There are so many great things you can do in an hour or two in your slow cooker, like chia puddings, mac ’n’ cheese, corn salad, caramelised bananas and even my smoky pulled ‘pork’ (all recipes in this book!). Sure, you could do those recipes in less time on the stove, but my view of ‘quick and easy’ is based on the hands-on time only. Being able to throw all the ingredients in, flick a switch and head out to the garden, take a shower, get some work done, pop to the shops or, better yet, sit down and really enjoy the company of those I’m about to eat with (game of cards, anyone?), and then come back an hour later to a perfectly cooked meal . . . that’s my kind of quick and easy.

Slow cooked food tastes bland. I’ve got an easy answer for that: use better recipes! I promise my cookbook ‘Modern Slow Cooker’ is filled with flavour. One thing people often notice when they start to cook from scratch using real, wholesome ingredients is how much salt you need to add to bring out all the flavours. Salt is a natural flavour enhancer. Ever made a curry with heaps of incredibly flavourful ingredients but it tastes bland? It simply needed more salt. When we cook with packet ingredients, ready-made sauces, etc., these ingredients are already filled with salt, so we don’t realise how much of it we’re actually eating and how much is needed to make food taste good. Buy a good-quality, unrefined salt and you’ll be getting a nice dose of minerals along with your tasty meal.

Slow cookers are only good for meat. That’s like saying a frypan is only good for steak! Being able to cook dried chickpeas and lentils from scratch while hardly giving it a thought – amazing. Being able to cook puddings and cheesecakes without the traditional set-up of an oven and water bath – game changer. Being able to infuse wines and ciders without burning off the alcohol – saviour!

You need to always have your slow cooker full. This just isn’t the case – I commonly use my 6L slow cooker only a quarter full and it's totally fine. I always say you’re better off having a bigger slow cooker and using it only half- or a quarter-full most of the time, rather than having a smaller one with no option to increase the quantity for bulk cooking or entertaining.

Slow cookers don’t cook food evenly. It is true that the ingredients at the bottom of the unit will cook more than those on the top, but we can use this to our advantage! We don’t necessary want all our food cooked the same – the chickpeas and potatoes are definitely going to need more cooking than the tomatoes and zucchini, so we layer ingredients accordingly. That’s why I often highlight the need to place ingredients in the slow cooker in a particular order.

Slow cookers are only good for soups and stews. What if I told you they could be used to cook baked cheesecake, fresh and zesty pearl barley salad, crispy fried mac ’n’ cheese, foolproof coconut yoghurt, BBQ sauce, tacos and a sweet and spiced apple cider toddy? All recipes in ‘Modern Slow Cooker’, all recipes done in a slow cooker! That’s what this book is all about – thinking differently about your slow cooker and seeing the many, many ways it can enrich your life (beyond soup and stew!). Dare I say it again – you just need the right recipes!