08 Jun Beat the heat with summer slow cooker recipes
By Will Lamont
During the steamy, summer months, the last place we want to find ourselves is in front of a hot oven or stove. During this time, we become a nation of barbecuers and make as many meals on the outdoor grill as we can. While this is a tasty, outdoor cooking alternative, barbecuing still requires a lot of hands-on attention.
So why not dust off that appliance that we all have somewhere in our cupboards and ‘slow’ things down. That’s right, we’re talking about the slow cooker. While most of us think of slow cookers as more of a winter appliance, they are actually perfectly suited for summer.
Need more convincing? Here are five compelling reasons why the team at thrive360 plans on making slow cooking a summer go-to cooking method:
- Save time.
The most time-consuming part of using a slow cooking is the chopping and measuring of ingredients. Once you’ve done that, you’re home free. Throw everything in, grab a beverage and hit the backyard. Slow cookers are designed to do their own thing so you don’t need to keep checking the contents. Remember, every time you take the lid off, it will release some of the heat, so if you keep doing this you’ll have to increase the cooking time.
- Save money.
Slow cookers are great for cooking cheaper cuts like beef brisket, pork shoulder, lamb shoulder and chicken thighs. You can also use less meat as slow-cooking really extracts a meaty flavour that permeates the whole dish. Bulk up with vegetables and pulses (e.g. lentils) instead.
Try one of our favourites – these Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This recipe uses chicken thighs and loads up on extra nutrition by including Canadian lentils and vegetables.
- Make mouth-watering desserts
Yes! You heard us. Slow cookers make delicious desserts. So forget the oven and use your slow cooker to make amazing summer time desserts. Scour the internet and you’ll find sweet slow cooker recipes for everything from cakes, to puddings, to cobblers. Using the slow cooker for dessert has been a summer entertaining game changer for us.
One dessert recipe that screams summer is this Slow Cooker Berry Crisp. We love it because it’s also a lightened up version of a Canadian classic chock full of some added nutrition thanks to flax, almonds, oats and lentils. Top this with some vanilla Greek yogurt or ice cream, and this dessert will become a new family favourite. Oh, and you can use fresh or frozen berries depending on the season.
- Entertain big groups like a boss.
A slow cooker is your best friend when it comes to planning for potlucks or entertaining a big group of friends. One of the main issues with larger groups of people is that you don’t have enough space on your grill to make everything you’d like. Once the meat goes on, you may find yourself scrambling for space. Well, hold on to your socks – thrive360 has a genius idea for handling a barbecue classic – baked potatoes! It’s easy as 1-2-3:
- Grease the slow cooker with a teaspoon of canola oil.
- Wash Russet potatoes. With a fork, prick holes in the potatoes.
- Place in slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours.
Also – if you’re attending a friend’s gathering, the host will love seeing you show up with your dish already in the slow cooker. You won’t be taking up any extra cooking space – all you need is a plug to keep it warm.
- You can use a slow cooker for most of your favourite recipes.
Most recipes that go in the oven can work in your slow cooker. Here’s a rough guide to help you figure out the timing courtesy of BBC Food.
If a dish usually takes:
- 15 – 30 mins, cook it for 1 – 2 hours on High or 4 – 6 hours on Low
- 30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2 – 3 hours on High or 5 – 7 hours on Low
- 1 – 2 hours, cook it for 3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 8 hours on Low
- 2 – 4 hours, cook it for 4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 12 hours on Low
Root vegetables can take longer than meat and other vegetables so put these near the heat source, at the bottom of the pot.
To bring out the most flavour, brown meat in canola oil. Cooking vegetables for a few minutes before adding to the slow cooker also adds flavour. But if you’re a rush, feel free to skip this step.
One final note: You’ll find hundreds of great recipes for summer slow cooking on the internet, but we highly recommend you check out one of our favourite books on the topic: Slower is Better by Chef Ricardo Larrivee. Ricardo shows you how truly versatile your slow cooker can be. The recipes, of course, are also creative and taste fantastic.
(Disclosure: thrive360 created the recipes and information as part of a slow cooker media outreach for Canola Eat Well. All opinions genuinely reflect our approach to healthy eating.)