Method 1. In the oven using a oven proof dish like the dutch oven.
The basic idea for this method of cooking is to put everything you need into the oven proof dish with tight fitting lid and leave to do its stuff. There are however a few tips and tricks…Cut all ingredients to a similar size and add things that cook quicker towards the end. Don’t add flour to the dish after it’s cooked but coat the meat or vegetables in flour before cooking. Ensure the lid is tight fitting so you don’t lose moisture during cooking and ensure the dish is a suitable size for the ingredients. Choose tougher cuts of meat such as chuck steak, round steak, blade steak, topside, gravy beef (beef), shanks, veal shoulder, diced veal (veal) boneless shoulder, boneless forequarter, shanks, neck chops, diced lamb (lamb) All chicken cuts especially on the bone (personally I would avoid the breast), pork shoulder, forequarter chops and pork belly (pork). Brown the meat (coated in flour) prior to placing in the oven proof dish.
Method 2. In a pressure cooker.
I have never used a pressure cooker. I see it used on Masterchef a lot and read a fantastic book called “A pressure cooker saved my life“. I am keen to give it ago but it sounds a bit complicated and although the modern ones are super safe – all that pressure and hot steam freaks me out. I had to google pressure cooker for dummies (yes there really is a book called that) and this is the method they suggest. Because a pressure cooker is fast you need to cook things for different amounts of time. The meat gets browned first then the liquid is added (in the pressure cooker but using it like a regular stove top pot) bring it to the boil then cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Release, add the veges to the meat and cook for a further 8 mins, release. Add the softer veges to the meat and veg mix and cook for a further 1 minute, release. At this point I am laughing and wondering when the crouch and hold bit is going to happen (rugby joke!) Now if my calculations are correct in 24 minutes you can cook a casserole – maybe I will be persuaded to try one – watch this space.
Method 3. In a slow cooker or crockpot.
The good old crock pot, would you believe ingrid and I fight over mums one that must be 30 years old. It’s a dated looking appliance but when you take the ceramic (I think) pot out of its outer pot – it actually looks pretty cool and retro sitting on the table. The basics of a slow cooker is as stated in the name it’s SLOW. You can sleep while it cooks, go to work or out for the day and you come home to a meal all ready to go. The key is ensuring the lid is tight fitting. A tip I read is wrap it in tinfoil if its had a hard life and not fitting a snug as it used to. You need to fill the pot 1/2 – 3/4 full of meat and veges and if it requires liquid you only need it to come up to halfway or less of the ingredients – very little liquid evaporates. Resist the urge to check and stir – there is no need. Add things like rice, pasta or seafood in the last hour of cooking.
Method 4. On the stove top.
This method is my preferred method as I feel like I have more control over my dish. I
frequently constantly check, taste and add to it – its a bit like therapy to me with the reward of a delicious comforting soupy stew to devour infront of the telly. I used to use a beautiful red Le creuset pot gifted to me but unfortunately I had it sitting on the element with nothing in it (I was probably cutting onions and garlic at the time) and heard a popping sound and discovered some of the enamel had chipped off. I took it straight to Millys Kitchen in Ponsonby determined to get a new one as it has a lifetime guarantee but was bitterly disappointed to be told and shown in the user manual that you MUST have something in the pot before you put it on heat. “Your choice of liquid, oil, fat or butter should completely cover the base before heating begins. Do not leave the pan unattended, and do not allow a pan to boil dry, as this may permanently damage the enamel”. OUCH that hurt! The plus side was they assured me its still ok to use and advised me to oil it after use. Back to the stove top method, basically all you do is saute onions and garlic, brown your meat, add the liquid and extra veges. Bring to the boil and turn down the heat and simmer for a couple of hours depending on the cut of meat. I do it with and with out the lid depending on whether I want to reduce the liquid or preserve it. I find this method easy, flexible and enjoyable. Did I mention the great smell around the neighbourhood and the posse of cats hanging around? Vanessa