Slow Cooking: The Easy Way to Prepare Delicious Food

The best meals are prepared with love, care... and patience. So, in a society fraught with fast food and instant - Instagrammable - culinary quests, is slow cooking the answer to minimum effort and maximum satisfaction? Emma Bangay (happily) finds out!

Slow Cooking is the method of preparing meals within a countertop electrical cooking appliance – sometimes referred to as a Crock Pot – which simmers the ingredients on a relatively low temperature over several hours. So, you can forget toiling over a hot stove, as Slow Cooking allows food to be cooked unattended, offering independence of preparing meals.

1. How has Slow Cooking Changed?

“In the 1970s, most recipes were stews or soups with meat, some type of canned soup, and some vegetables,” explains Jenny Croghan, Editor, Paleo Slow Cooker. “Now, you can make anything from Indian curries to Cornish hens, Vietnamese sandwiches and cheesecake in the slow cooker.”  Jenny believes that this method of cooking is now perceived as a vital part of the modern kitchen, “not just some method your grandmother used to get some mushy dish on the table without much effort!" she says. 

2. Why is it so Popular in Winter?

“The types of meals cooked in a slow cooker are definitely more suited to winter,” explains Jody Vassallo, author of Beautiful Food. “Flavours are more robust and a lot of slow cooked meals take longer to cook,” she adds, whereas, “in the hotter months people tend to throw together a salad or prepare a quick stir fry or barbecue.”

3. Health Benefits of Slow Cooking 

Slow Cooking helps food retain vitamins, and limits the formation of some compounds that can increase inflammation in the body, explains Jenny. “High heat cooking such as grilling can form carcinogens on the food too, so the slow cooker completely avoids that.”

Slow Cooking is also great because you can add any number of vegetables to the dishes you cook, adds Jody. “You can also include whole grains and legumes to recipes to increase the protein and fibre content.”

4. Time-saving Benefits of Slow Cooking

  • You can prepare all of the ingredients in advance, allowing you to leave a meal cooking safely while you go to work and then have a fully cooked meal when you arrive home, enthuses Jody.
  • A lot of recipes need minimal preparation, aside from slicing and dicing. So there is rarely a call for frying of onions or meat first - which also results in less washing up!
  • “You don’t have to do anything to the food while it’s cooking,” Jenny guarantees. “Just add the food to the appliance, turn it on, and walk away until it’s time to eat. There’s no stirring or turning the food, and you don’t have to worry about burning or undercooking.”

Credit: Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo

5. Budget-savvy benefits

  • “You can use cheaper cuts of meat in the slow cooker,”  Jenny encourages. "In fact, cheap cuts such as chicken thighs and beef - round or chuck - work much better than chicken breasts or filet mignon," she notes, explaining that "this is because the meat becomes very tender and flavourful.”
  • Cheaper vegetables also cook very well in the slow cooker. Potatoes, swedes, parsnips, and carrots are perfect for this appliance, while the more expensive vegetables like asparagus actually don't work as well. “You can also extend meals by adding soup mix, barley or lentils as well," says Jody.
  • Slow cookers love leftovers, so you can cheaply and easily make several meals at once with this one-pot solution.

6. Slow Cooking Myths Busted

  • Slow cooking is not fine dining

Not true, Jenny urges. “I’ve served plenty of company meals from the slow cooker. Some of the best are Beef Stroganoff, poached salmon, ham (which stays moist and tender in the slow cooker), and some fabulous dips such as artichoke dip, bruschetta toppings, and curried meatballs," she explains. "As eating and tastes have evolved, so too have slow cooker recipes.”

  • Slow cooked meals must be served simultaneously

Many slow cookers have a “keep warm” feature that will let the food stay safe and hot up to two hours after the food is done. “So if you want to eat at 5pm but your son won’t get home from basketball until 7pm, he can have a hot meal ready and waiting for him,”  Jenny assures.

  • It’s not appropriate for Paleo recipes

“Bone broths and other slow cooked meat dishes are perfect for the slow cooker,” encourages Jody.

  • It’s only good for families and large numbers of people

“It’s good for singles because you can buy small slow cookers, of one or two that will make the perfect amount of food for one person - perhaps with leftovers - that mean you don’t have to cook another meal,” says Jenny.

  • Slow cookers are only for meat eaters

Vegetarian Slow Cooker recipes are very popular, notes Jenny. “You can make black bean enchiladas, vegetarian chilli, vegetable curries, and Chinese hot pot,” to name a few.

7. Try these Delicious Recipes!

NOURISHING CHICKEN SOUP (courtesy of Beautiful Food)

Credit: Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo

1 x 1.6 kg free-range chicken
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
4 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coriander roots
6 spring onions
1 garlic bulb, halved
5 cm piece of fresh ginger, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
250 ml (1 cup) shaoxing rice wine (optional)
1 tablespoon tamari
300 g cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cobs corn, kernels removed
300 g broccoli, cut into florets

1. Put the chicken into a very large saucepan or stockpot, add the spices, spring onion, garlic, ginger, celery, carrot, shaoxing rice wine and 4 litres (16 cups) of water and cook over medium heat for 3 hours, until the chicken is very soft and falling away from the bones. You may need to add more water during this time to keep the chicken covered.
2. Remove any large bones and discard.
3. Add the tamari, cauliflower and corn kernels to the soup and cook for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft. Add the broccoli and cook for 5 minutes, until soft.


"Quinces equal windy autumn days for me," says Jody. "They are one of those rare fruits that must be cooked, and the transformation that occurs is really wonderful: their dull white flesh morphs into a stunning pink." These quinces are also superb with the Steamed vanilla and green tea custards, she notes. 

Credit: Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo

4 quinces, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons ghee, melted
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 star anise
1 small dried red chilli
3 cardamom pods, bruised
250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Buckwheat and nutmeg baked custard

1. Put the quinces into a large saucepan, add the ghee, spices, apple juice, lemon juice and 2 litres (8 cups) of water and cook over medium heat for 3 hours, until the quinces turn pink and the flesh is very soft, but not mushy. You can also use a slow cooker for this recipe.

2. Serve with the baked custard.

For more delicious recipes, check out our Slow Cooker Collection, or click here to discover 6 tips for a succulent slow-cooked stew.

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1 comment
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Posted by Rebecca2526Report
Great advice in the article. It's good to know slow cooked fresh food retains a lot of the vitamins and minerals in the fresh food prepared. A great way to stay away from those winter colds and flu's.