What is Operation Jam Jar?

Operation Jam Jar is all about getting back to basics in the kitchen.

Check out my efforts at cooking from scratch - cakes, soups, biscuits

Learn how to make things that you would normally buy at the supermarket - wraps, ice cream, pizza bases

Try to live a more 'country' lifestyle in the city - making your own jams or relish

Get the skills to enjoy cooking in a thrifty way, and have a bit of fun while you do it

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Slow down, you move too fast

Now, where do I start on how much I LOVE my slow cooker?

Will and I received our slow cooker as a wedding gift two years ago.  Since then, this little device has produced many a tender, delicious meal that is full of flavour

Some of the best things for the slow cooker are:

·      Casseroles and stews – the meat becomes super tender and the flavour develops with hours of gentle heat

·      Any kind of soup – load up the veges with a cup or 2 of stock, cook on low for 4 hrs

·      Roast meats – place a whole leg of lamb in with a can of tomatoes, a cup of beef stock, salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 8 hours, at which time you can pull the meat off the bone with a spoon.   

·      Relish and chutneys – these really benefit from the time in the pot.  You’ll find the flavours more intense than a stove top version

If you are converting a slow cooker recipe from an oven version to a slow cooker, remember to use about half as much liquid.  Because of the lid, very little liquid evaporates, even when cooking on high. 

I believe that the best thing about a slow cooker is being able to buy cheaper cuts of meat.  No not freaky things like tongue and liver (though I’m sure there a loads of offally good recipes).  Things like osso bucco, chuck steak and mince can be your new best friends.   

An easy way to test the waters with your slow cooker is a simple recipe like Beef and Guinness.  Not too many ingredients, which keeps it simple – as soon as there is a long list of ingredients in a recipe (especially things I have to go and buy) I tend to tune out and move on.   Don’t get suckered into buying the recipe base sachets – these tend to be full of salt, sugar and preservatives that you just don’t need. 

You just pile everything into the pot and leave it alone – it’s the perfect way to cook when you have better things to do with your time.  Osso bucco is usually a low cost option at the butcher.  It benefits from slow, gentle cooking to produce a tender final product.  You could also use 4 lamb shanks or 500g of chuck steak for this recipe. 

Slow Cooked Beef and Guinness
4 osso bucco (beef shin)
2 onions, sliced thickly
400g mushrooms, sliced thickly
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 cup of beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large can of Guinness (around 450ml)

1.    Brown the meat in a lightly oiled frying pan on a medium heat.  Set aside.
2.    Cook up the onions and mushroom in the fat from the meat until browned slightly.  Place these, the meat, and the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hrs. 
3.    When finished cooking, you can whisk in a tablespoon of plain flour to thicken up the sauce
4.    Serve with creamy mashed potato and loads of minty green peas. And some fresh bread on the side to mop up the sauce.  To be sure.  


  1. Sounds delish! Wish we could run a slow cooker but with little electric we make do with a cool outdoor bread oven - leave a roast or casserole overnight and by the morning it is spoon cuttingly tender too!

  2. Wow that sounds so good!

    Last night my husband made this recipe and then turned it into a pie. He put all the meat and mushroom into another dish, then whisked in a few tablespoons of flour to thicken up the sauce in the slow cooker, put it all together and then put puff pastry on the top. Yummmmmmmmm.