Slow Cooker Swedish Style Meatballs

These are handy little fellas for a weekday arsenal. I make the double batch as listed below and freeze half. Then I can defrost the leftovers and reheat gently in the pan. A handy way to prep them is to make up the meatballs the day before, then hop them off the pan (two minutes literally) in the morning and leave them on all day. The recipe makes about 35 or so meatballs, large walnut sized, serving four. The original recipe is in BBC Good Food magazine, but I have adapted it a little here, in terms of quantity and the addition of dill plus the slow cooker option.

1 small onion chopped

150g breadcrumbs

400g lean pork mince

400g turkey mince

nutmeg, grated

1 tblsp of chopped flatleaf parsley

1 tblsp of chopped fresh dill

2 tblsp plain flour plus extra to dust the meatballs

2 tblsp butter

500ml beef stock (I used a knorr stock pot)

4 tblsp cream

oil for frying the meatballs

Begin by blitzing the pork, turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, herbs, nutmeg and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined but not a paste! Roll into small meatballs (I like to do this on a large piece of parchment paper on my counter to minimise the raw meat spatter everywhere)

Dust with flour (if you are prepping in advance, leave the flour until just before you are browning them in the pan so they don’t get that weird pasty coating in the fridge)

Heat the oil and brown the meatballs in two batches, it will take only a few seconds in a hot pan – this is mostly all aesthetic plus it locks in a little flavour, otherwise they will look as grey as a Monday afternoon in February and entirely unappetising to eat. The first ones will be coloured up nicely by the time you make your way around the pan. Transfer them directly to your slow cooker pot.

Now melt the butter in the pan, adding the flour when it starts to foam, letting it cook for a minute or two.

Slowly add the stock, whisking all the time.

Let it bubble for a few minutes until it thickens, then add in the cream and stir.

Pour over the meatballs and set to low for six hours.

Serve with mash or pasta or rice is lovely too.


Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

So we did eventually get through January  but yet I can’t quite see the end of cold weather.  That does not seem fair, right?! Life is picking up pace and dinners are a little more, well dull and while it’s too difficult to heave oneself onto the saintly side of the table (well me anyway) during the week I am looking for simple and comforting, but not at the expense of time and labour. I know the title probably excited nobody, but bear with me. This gem yields stealthy reward for little or no early-in-the-day effort. All it asks is that you give it five minutes of your time and that glass of wine that you are NOT having till Friday right?! My kids love spag bol and this makes a nice big double portion -one for now, one for the freezer. Win win.

800g mince beef – I use the the 5% fat for this one (Aldi 380g packs of organic lean mince are spot on)
1 large onion, diced (Or cheat and use your eye to measure the same quantity of frozen diced onions!)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
130g pack of diced pancetta
2 tblsp dried oregano
1 tblsp dried marjoram
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 x150g tin tomato puree

2 tins of  diced tomato
150ml red wine

salt and pepper to season

Panfry the pancetta in a small pan – briefly – it does not have to be cooked through. Mix remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and then add in the pancetta.

Set on low for 8 hours.

Serve with spaghetti and oodles of freshly grated parmesan.

Spanish Style Pizza Chicken

This is a version of an old pinterest slow cooker recipe that I have been making for a good many years. It’s a handy slow cooker one that pleases the family and is a bit of a novelty both in terms of flavour and variety. The original used pepperoni and my riff uses chorizo with some smoked paprika but both are tasty. Parma ham and feta or cheddar might be another interesting combination. Regardless it’s a very quick midweek solution to that what-will-I-feed-them question. Here’s your arsenal:-

4-5 chicken fillets

2-3 slices of deli chorizo (or salami/pepperoni – see above) PER chicken breast

200ml hot veg or chicken stock

1 tblsp tomato puree

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

3 tblsp sliced black olives

50g grated mozzarella

Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker and season. Put two to three slices of chorizo on top of each breast.

Now mix the stock with the oregano, tomato puree and smoked paprika and pour over the chicken.

Sprinkle the olives on top. Put the lid on and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Half an hour from the end of cooking, sprinkle the mozzarella over the chicken, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes until the cheese has melted.


Serve with pasta or salad.


Simple Sausage and Bean Casserole

The weather eh? So much for any hope of a sunny reprieve. In the autumn and winter I get the best use out of my slow cooker. Truth be told, I get use out of it all year round, but it really comes into its own when the weather is cold and rainy and we are busy at after school activities or out and about. It’s good to know that the slow cooker is home alone, doing its thing! Needless to say, it’s in use here these days.
Not surprisingly, the kids tire of it after a while, but this recipe is one of their favourites. I like to produce it on the days I’m working or post swimming lessons to quell the hangry outbursts (and that’s just me.)
I use a 6 litre slow cooker. It has high/low setting and a timer. When the time is up, it switches to a keep warm setting. There is no wrong way to follow this recipe. I’ve popped this on before the school run and it’s been perfect to eat even at six that evening. It’s most forgiving.
Simple Sausage and Bean Casserole
Serves 4 (with leftover beans, unless you are a member of my savage family)
8 sausages, decent size! (I love the M&S Italian Sausages – high meat content and quality product and I’ve used Tesco finest smoked garlic and basil which give a nice flavour to the dish but any decent meaty varieties will do)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano or a small bunch of thyme
2 peppers, one yellow and one red, chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (you can also use butter beans to great effect too)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
splash of red wine, optional
salt and pepper to season
Brown the sausages in a frying pan. This is for colour and appearance – they will look much more pleasant. While the sausages are browning, mix all the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. When coloured, but not necessarily cooked through, add the sausages, gently nestling them in the bean mix.
Turn on low for 8 hours. I like to serve this one with either some toasted sourdough with garlic butter (yum!) or a baked potato or just some greens (revolt! say the children)
Alternatively, you can make this in a heavy lidded casserole if like me today you left it far too late and still wanted to eat it for dinner. I preheated the oven to 160C. I browned the sausages and set aside. I added the garlic peppers and diced onion to the pot and let them soften for a bit, then added in thyme, beans, puree, tomatoes and brought to a gentle simmer. Tuck the browned sausages in and pop on the lid and let it do its thing in the oven for an hour.