Growing up on his nan’s South African curries and bradies (stews), TV chef and MasterChef finalist Dean Edwards was raised to appreciate and savour the flavours that come from leaving dinner to bubble gently on the hob all day long.
“I was very fortunate to come from a family who always cooked from scratch and food was always a massive part of our lives,” says Dean. “Some of my earliest memories are being round my nan’s house, all cooking together – my job was chopping the onions.”
Now, Dean is releasing his third cookbook, Cook Slow, a collection of stress-free recipes that celebrate good family food that can be chucked in the slow cooker at the beginning of the day and left to do its thing, meaning a stress-free and delicious dinner on the table every night no matter how busy your schedule is.
If you're new to using a slow cooker, or you're not sure what to do with one - here are some of Dean's top tips to get you started:
1. Turn on high to save time
"If you put your slow cooker on high, it takes around half the amount of time as cooking on low."
2. Brown your meat
"If you want more flavour, I brown off the meat, but you don’t have to do that. Anywhere you can encourage extra layers of flavour, it’s worth it."
3. Plan ahead
"It’s all about planning. If you know you want beef ragu on a Monday, put the slow cooker on on a Sunday. You don’t have to eat it Sunday night but you’ve got a meal for the next couple of days."
4. Add your wine in later for adults
"If you're doing a recipe and you don’t want to add chilli or wine, just leave it out for the kids and then add it in for you and let it cook out a bit more."
5. You only need half the amount of liquid
"This is my biggest tip. So if you’re doing ragu or chilli or Bolognese, you use half the amount of liquid otherwise it gets too watery as it can't really evaporate."
6. Cheaper cuts are best
"With a slow cooker you can use cheaper cuts of meat like lamb shanks, oxtail, or shin of beef. They may take longer to cook, but they have the best flavour."
7. Try desserts in your slow cooker
“I was really surprised by the versatility of the dishes you can cook in a slow cooker, so why not try out some of your favourite recipes in there! People don’t believe me when I tell them I do my sticky toffee pudding in my slow cooker rather than the oven. I’ve tested it on plenty of friends and family and they all prefer the texture that the slow cooker gives it.”
8. Have a go!
"My biggest advice is go for it, have a play - it’s hard to go wrong! We all worry about messing up recipes, but with a slow cooker you’re taking the majority of the guesswork out of it. It doesn’t matter if you leave it on for six hours or eight hours - it’s pretty much fool proof!"
Check out Dean’s exclusive slow cooker recipes here: