Cookbook 144: Slow Cooker: The complete collection

I bought Slow Cooker: The complete collection by the Australian Women’s Weekly from Aldi where it was on sale. Like all modern AWW cookbooks it says that it is triple tested, and that it contains “200 of our best slow cooker recipes together”. I love slow cooked food, it’s tender, tasty and means that you can set and forget. I loved the AWW cookbook Cook it Slow and despite not cooking a slow cooker recipe at the time, I have cooked others since and they have been great.

Which makes this cookbook such a bitter disappointment. Every single dish I made out of it (3 over 2 weekends) has been a disappointment. Each one of those dishes would have been better cooked in some other way. It may be that my slow cooker isn’t great or maybe was a bit too small, but none of these dishes worked. I won’t be keeping this book and I rate it 1 out of 5 stars.

Osso Buco with mixed mushrooms (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6 large pieces of beef osso buco (around 1.7kg)
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup marsala
  • 1.5 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 2 springs fresh rosemary
  • 185g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 155g portabello mushrooms, cut into 8 wedges
  • 155g oyster mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup pouring cream
  • 1/4 cup gravy powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley

Method:

  1. Coat beef in flour, shake off excess. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan; cook beef, in batches, until browned all over. Remove from pan
  2. Heat remaining oil in same pan; cook onion, stirring, until onion softens. Add marsala; bring to the boil. Add onion mixture to a 4.5 litre slow cooker; stir in stock, sauce, mustard and rosemary. Place beef in cooker, fitting pieces upright and tightly packed into a single layer. Cook, covered, on low, for about 8 hours.
  3. Carefully remove beef from the cooker; cover and keep warm. Add cream and combined gravy and water to cooker, cook, covered, on high for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Stir in parsley; season to taste.
  4. Serve beef with mushroom sauce.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This tasted good, but the sauce didn’t thicken as it should have (it will on reheating once I defrost the left overs).
  • The meat wasn’t particularly tender, it might have been if I had cooked it for longer.
  • All up, this would have been better to have cooked on the stove for less time

Hoisin and start anise oxtail (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2kg oxtails, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 star anise
  • 500g buk choy (or whatever Asian greens you prefer)
  • 1 fresh long red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 3 green onions (spring onions) sliced thinly

Method:

  1. Trim excess fat from oxtail. Pack oxtail tightly in a single laywer, in the base of a 5 litre slow cooker. Whisk sauce, stock, sherry, rind, juice, garlic, sugar and pepper in a medium jug until combined; add star anise. Pour mixture over oxtail in cooker. Cook, covered, on low, about 8 hours.
  2. Discard star anise. Remove oxtail; cover to keep warm. Skim fat from surface of liquid in cooker.
  3. Add buk choy (or your preferred Asian greens) to cooker; cook, uncovered on high, for 5 minutes or until wilted.
  4. Return oxtail to cooker; cook, uncovered, on high, until oxtail is heated through. Season to taste.
  5. Serve oxtail with buk choy (or other Asian greens) and cooking liquid. Sprinkle with chilli and onions.

Notes on this recipe:

  • So disappointing, especially as finding oxtail was a challenge. The meat was not fork tender. Getting the meat off the oxtail was a challenge. The sauce was not sticky and thick as I’d expect from a recipe like this, just watery and very sweet.
  • The oxtail was still a little rare after all that cooking time.
  • This dish would be improved immeasurably by being cooked on the stove. It would be more labour intensive, but you’d really be able to appreciate the meat falling off the bone and the sauce being thick and sticky.

Spinach and three cheese cannelloni (services 6)

[No photo. It wasn’t photogenic cooked or served – see notes]

Ingredients:

  • 750g frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3.5 cups (840g) firm ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 225g jar char-grilled eggplant in olive oil, drained, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 litre bottled passata
  • 3/4 cup pouring cream
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 400g dried instant cannelloni tubes
  • 1.5 cups pizza cheese

Method:

  1. Squeeze excess moisture from spinach. Place spinach, ricotta, eggs, egg yolk, parmesan, eggplant and garlic in a large bowl, stir to combine. Season (with what? Whatever you like… I used nutmeg, salt and pepper).
  2. Combine passata, cream and basil in a large jug; season
  3. Lightly oil a 4.5 litre slow cooker. Pour half the passata mixture over base of cooker.
  4. Spoon or pipe spinach mixture (or use your fingers like we did) into cannelloni tubes; arrange cannelloni vertically in cooker. Top with remaining passata mixture; sprinkle with pizza cheese. Cook, covered, on low, about 4 hours. Stand 10 minutes before serving.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This turned into squidge. Mostly tasty squidge, but squidge nonetheless. Also not hot squidge, but rather lukewarm squidge, to the point where you wanted to put it in the microwave to actually make it hot.
  • As I tried to serve this, my serving spoon cut through all the contents like there was nothing there. The cannelloni broke apart with no effort at all. It was not attractive.
  • There was no texture to this at all. This is a dish for people with very sore or no teeth. No chewing required because there is no bite. I found the texture gross.
  • Don’t ever make this in your slow cooker. If you want to make it, do it in the oven where the sauce will reduce and cook through, the cheese will brown nicely and the tubes will be more al dente. It will only take you about 90 minutes, because it takes an hour to make the filling and stuff the tubes, then 30 mins or so in an 180C oven (see cannelloni packet for cooking instructions)
  • Such a waste of ingredients and time.

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  1. […] this dish was so good, a perfect antidote to the disastrous lamb shanks from the AWW cookbook the other […]

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