Slow Cooking…. Comfort Food for Cold Days

Slow Cooking… it’s a term we pretty much all use, right?  But are you doing it right?  It isn’t something you can do with all meats, there are special cuts of meat that are best for slow cooking.  These special cuts need the longer cooking time and in addition, they provide the consistency you want, it doesn’t turn to mush.  Slow cooked meats offset the need for a longer cooking time by, generally, being a cheaper cut of meat and providing the most delicious taste!  They even provide health benefits.

For the best soup cuts, casserole cuts or roasts from Palmdale Butchers, for slowcooking – along with some recipe suggestions, read on.

If you are being health concious, you might think that getting a nice lean cut like a Scotch Fillet would make a great slow cook option – well I’m sorry to tell you you would be wrong!  Now, there is nothing wrong with a great Scotch Fillet! Beautiful piece of meat and fabulous on the grill…. but slow cook it and you will end up with an unappetising mush with little of the health benefits of meat designed for slow cooking.

Lets first cover the blazingly obvious point that slow cooked meals are cheap and easy.  In fact, they are quick – that might sound contrary, but your general slow cooked meal needs very little preparation, it’s an “All-in” meal that you can then leave cooking slowly until you are ready to eat.  It would be almost impossible to over cook your meal – you can add all sorts of veggies (dare I say sneak some in that wouldn’t normally be eaten?) and legumes which will all taste wonderful when cooked.  In addition, slow cooked meals are more nutrient dense than normal cooking because you would normally throw out the cooking/steaming water where some of the nutrients end up.

So… You have your chosen meat, you’ve chucked in some veggies and/or legumes and a tin of tomatoes –  reducing the amount of processed food you are consuming (less salt and sugar) and increasing the health benefits.  It’s actually found that tinned tomatoes have a greater benefit than the fresh, who knew?  A slow cooked meal is also incredibly easy to clean up – chopping board, knife, cook pot…. that’s it!  Not to mention, it’s portable, it’s not time sensitive so cook it the day before and take it with you to be reheated at a friend’s place.

The last point in this general “isn’t slow cooking wonderful” information post – is that the lower temperature you use to cook your food, the HIGHER the amounts of nutrients you retain in your meal. this leads to not only a higher nutrient rate, but a higher satiety rate and…. that’s got to help most of us.

You might be surprised to hear that many of the cuts Palmdale Meats recommend for slow cooking are actually lower in fat than a lot of us expect – what many of these slow cook cuts do have though, is a larger proportion of gelatin and gelatin has proven benefits for us.  The bones in things like lamb shanks, osso have great healing properties themselves, with benefits for digestion and arthritis.

So, where do you start?  The first step, the most crucial step, is you start with the best sourced meat.  It doesn’t matter what you do to your meat if you start off with poor meat.  Palmdale Village Meats source only the highest quality meats, their meats are selected from only the highest grade, South Australian providers.  Palmdale Meat is all locally sourced, free roaming and self fed from the paddocks as nature intended.

Soups

The beauty of soups is, they are cheap to make and you can often make them from your left-overs.

For a clear broth / stock base, use either meat free bones from Palmdale Village Meats, Poultry and Fish. Chicken frames, Veal Bones or Bacon Bones are a good start.  Add a few vegetables, herbs and a couple of litres of water, cook it all for several hours.  Strain the bones and veggies out and what you have remaining is a clear broth / stock base.  A good fish base can be made using fish heads or bones.  Even Prawn shells make a great stock base for many indian meals – make sure you strain well.

For a light broth / soup, you can use the same as above, Chicken Frames or Bacon Bones – or you can start adding a bit of substance to your bones.  Use Palmdale Meats Chicken Chops, Lamb Shanks or Ox Tail or even a few pieces of Osso Bucco.  Add your veggies and herbs in the water in more bite sized pieces.  For a light broth, you don’t want to be overloading the soup.  At the end of several hours simmering, take out the bones and the inedible pieces of herbs (like bay leaves) and serve

For a heavy soup – more like a wet casserole (think of Minestrone or Pea & Ham) of course you can still use the frames and bones – but here you have more of a variety.  Palmdale Village Meats, Poultry and Fish offer things like

  • Osso Bucco
  • Ox Tail
  • Smoked Hocks (smoked on site)
  • Lamb Shanks
  • Beef Cheeks
  • Gravy Beef (stays in cubes)
  • Chuck Steak (shreds, perfect for ragu)
  • Chicken Chops
  • Chicken Thighs (stays in chunks, Breast meat shreds during long cooking)

Then add a heartier base.  Tomato or rich meat stock.  Lots of veggies, legumes and/or pasta.  Add water and/or stock and simmer away for 2-6 hours.

Casseroles / Stews

Slow cooked casseroles, especially from the beautiful meat from Palmdale Butchers, are a beautiful, hearty meal that everyone can enjoy.  Filling and nutritious, with often enough left over for seconds the next day.

You may be surprised to hear that exactly the same meats can be used for a casserole than can be used for soups, with a few additions, the difference being is that casseroles generally require a little more preparation and the addition of extra ingredients, such as wine and seasonings that wouldn’t normally find their way into a soup.  The vegetables are heartier and chunkier and you would normally increase the amount of meat slightly to make it heartier.  John or Kym at Palmdale Village Meats will help you with recommendations for your meal.

  • Osso Bucco
  • Ox Tail
  • Smoked Hocks (smoked on site)
  • Lamb Shanks
  • Beef Cheeks
  • Beef Necks
  • Lamb Necks
  • Lamb Chops
  • Gravy Beef (stays in cubes)
  • Chuck Steak (shreds, perfect for ragu)
  • Chicken Chops or Maryland
  • Chicken Thighs (stays in chunks, Breast meat shreds during long cooking)

For a casserole, the recipe typically starts with sautéing onions and/or garlic in a little oil or butter (or both) and browning the meat, before adding the other ingredients.

TIP: If a casserole has too much liquid when you have nearly finished cooking, take out the meat and take the pot of sauce (if it’s a stove top pot, otherwise take the SAUCE out into a stove top pot) to the top of the stove and reduce at a gentle boil until the right consistency.  Add the meat back to the sauce and serve.

Roasts

I’ve always slow cooked my Legs of Lamb.  Why?  When I first started cooking, I had no idea how to roast it conventionally and thought I couldn’t go wrong with slow roast.. and that’s exactly right!  Keep the liquid in there, sealed with a lid and the temperature low and you can NOT go wrong!  Now that I’m older and more experienced… I still slow cook my leg of lamb.  It tastes better, what can I say LOL.

However, there are fabulous cuts that do tend themselves specifically to a slow roast and Palmdale Meats, Poultry and Fish can provide them for you.  Their beautiful grass fed beef and free roaming lamb and Pork lend an extra element to the flavour of your roasts. Remember to rest the meat before slicing (I usually do this while making the gravy) and you’ll wow I’m sure!

  • Beef Bolar Roast – (rolled)
  • Lamb Shoulder Roast
  • Pork Neck Roast
  • Lamb Shanks
  • Smoked Hocks

Why not chicken?  Well, it can be slow roasted of course, but after only a little while the chicken tends to lose shape and is better in a casserole or a soup.

 

John or Kym from Palmdale Meats, Poultry and Seafood are always there to help you with your choice for a slow cooked meal.  Call in to Palmdale Village Meats in the North Adelaide Village, O’Connell St, North Adelaide.

There’s 2 hours free parking right in the Village Centre, make use of it.

(08) 8267 5498