Only a few weeks ago I was thinking how we were having a pretty good winter, and that it wasn’t very cold! But I spoke too soon and the cold snap hit. My British colleagues still say that we don’t know a true winter here, but hey, it’s cold to us!
Whether the winter is exceptionally cold or not, we’re well into the time of year that we simply crave hot soups, stews, curries, roasts, and tender, fall apart, slow cooked meat. We don’t really use the appliance as often as I’d like because it is, of course, slow. This is fine on a weekend but not on a workday. Some might say one of the benefits of a slow cooker is that you can put it on in the morning and when you get home from work dinner is ready. However, I would never have it on if we weren’t home.
This is simply because of Safety First; I won’t take the unlikely risk of it catching fire, or exploding, or any other terrible possibility. Aside from our possessions, which can be replaced, the main issue is having our 2 cats at home, inside. So as you might imagine this means the slow cooker will never be on when we’re not home.
The slow cooker is easy to use but it does require a bit of commitment, preparation and patience. Both of these dishes can be cooked in the oven if you don’t have a slow cooker (see bottom of recipes for details).
Now it is unfortunate that these photos were taken prior to the food photography class and I used my iPhone to take them so they’re highly ordinary. But please believe me when I say that despite their rather boring brown appearance, they both taste fantastic!
What is your favourite winter cooking method? Do you use a slow cooker?
This recipe is by Tim from Urban Food Market which I received a copy of when buying the goat. I find it hard to describe the taste of goat, but it’s quite mild yet tasty – and it has less fat than beef and lamb!
As we were having the ragu with brown rice I left it in chunks, but otherwise you would let the tender meat fall apart and stir it through pasta. The gremolata really does ‘lift’ the dish so please don’t leave it out.
Urban Food Market’s Free Range Goat Ragu
- 1kg diced free range goat
- 4 tablespoons of plain flour
- 3 medium carrots, roughly diced
- 2 sticks celery cleaned & roughly chopped
- 1 large onion roughly diced
- 1 400g can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of tomatoes paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 50g butter
- 500g pappardelle pasta or cooked brown rice, to serve
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Zest from ½ orange
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Handful of continental parsley
- Handful of mint
- Good pinch of salt
- Dust the goat lightly with flour. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot and brown the goat well on all sides and remove.
- Reduce heat to medium and sauté carrot, celery and onion until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes then add the wine and cook off the alcohol (another couple of minutes). Then add the tomatoes, stock, thyme and bay leaves and return the goat to pot. Bring to the boil then transfer to slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours – or until meat is tender and falling apart.
- Strain the meat and vegetables, reserving the liquid. Pour the liquid back into a clean pot on stove and reduce until thick and syrupy, then add butter and stir until melted into the sauce.
- Meanwhile remove the vegetables from the meat then add to the thick sauce to warm back through.
- Cook your pasta or rice.
- Finely chop all the gremolata ingredients together.
- Mix the ragù through the pasta or serve atop cooked rice, and sprinkle the gremolata on top.
*To cook in the oven: preheat oven to 110C, use a large, heavy-bottomed pot for steps 1-3 then cook in oven for around 12 hours.
Red Wine Lamb Shanks
This recipe is adapted from one of Taste.com.au’s. I needed to use more liquid than the original recipe, and I have estimated my usage below. It depends on how big your shanks are compared to your slow cooker size. See what fits. I aimed to have the meat completely covered, although keep in mind the slow cooker does not allow liquid to reduce – but you can always do that afterwards on the stove top.
My lamb shanks didn’t come trimmed and I wasn’t bothered to attempt it myself. This is home-cooking! I was surprised to see that the shanks trimmed themselves during the cooking process however. When they were cooked there was a nice handle of bone available (not as neat as a pre-trimmed shank, but I care not).
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tbs plain flour
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 4 lamb shanks, trimmed (or not)
- A couple of sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250ml red wine
- 3 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
- Vegetables of your choice, to serve
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon, rind finely grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Season flour with salt and pepper then coat lamb in flour, shaking off excess. Add to pan and cook, turning often, for 5-6 minutes or until browned.
- Remove from pan and place shanks in slow cooker. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened slightly.
- Increase heat to high and add wine to pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Add sauce to slow cooker and ensure shanks are coated and covered. Cook for 4-5 hours on high, or until lamb is very tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, combine parsley, lemon and extra garlic. Divide lamb shanks and sauce among serving bowls. Top with parsley mixture. Serve with mashed potato and beans.
*To cook on the stove: heat stove on a low heat and cook covered, for 1.5 – 2 hours, or until lamb is very tender.