In the relentless rhythm of modern life, it can feel nearly impossible to find the time to prepare and cook meals. It’s for such moments that the slow cooker can truly become a lifesaver. As a seasoned home cook and culinary enthusiast, I’ve spent years exploring the possibilities of this humble kitchen appliance.

One of my favorite recipes, a baked beans and Frankfurter sausage casserole, perfectly showcases how a slow cooker can turn simple ingredients into a sumptuous meal with minimal fuss.

Crafting the Baked Beans and Frankfurter Sausage Casserole

To prepare this casserole, you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of Frankfurter sausages
  • 1lb of belly pork (or diced pork)
  • 415g (15 ounces) can of peeled tomatoes
  • 415g (15 ounces) can of baked beans
  • 415 (15 ounces) can of butter beans or cannellini beans
  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 568mls (1 pint) of chicken stock

The Preparation

  1. Cut the Frankfurter sausages into bite-sized pieces and place them into the slow cooker.
  2. Add the chopped pork, tinned tomatoes, and baked beans.
  3. Drain the cannellini beans and add to the pot.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped onions, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar.
  5. Mix the plain flour with a bit of the chicken stock and stir into the slow cooker.
  6. Pour in the remaining stock, blending all ingredients well.

Set your slow cooker on low and let it work its magic for 6-8 hours. This hearty casserole easily serves four.

Note: If you’re using raw kidney beans or other pulses, be sure to boil them for at least 10 minutes to eliminate any harmful compounds. For this recipe, canned beans are used, which don’t require pre-soaking or cooking. When in doubt, consult the package’s instructions.

Slow Cooked Beef Stew: Another Slow Cooker Gem

Now that you’ve mastered the casserole, let’s take a look at another slow cooker classic: the beef stew.

You will need:

  • 2lb of braising steak
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 3 small chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped courgette
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 300mls of beef stock (an oxo cube will do)
  • A large teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Half a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper

The Preparation

  1. Set your slow cooker to the auto setting (if available) or low.
  2. Chop the beef into large bite-sized pieces.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan until it’s very hot.
  4. Toss the beef in the flour, then brown on both sides in the oil. You might need to do this in two batches.
  5. Move the meat to the slow cooker.
  6. In the same pan, gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the carrots and courgette, cooking gently for an additional 2 minutes.
  8. Add the beef stock, thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
  9. Bring this mixture to a boil, then pour it over the meat in the slow cooker.
  10. Stir well and leave it to cook on auto or low for 6-8 hours. This savory stew serves four.

For an extra special touch, consider adding dumplings towards the end of the cooking time. Simply place them on top of the stew in the slow cooker during the last hour of cooking and turn the heat up to high. The result: slightly crisp dumplings that are a delightful complement to the tender, slow-cooked beef.

Slow Cooker Mastery: A Skill Worth Cultivating

Slow cooking can be a game-changer for busy individuals and families. With just a bit of prep, you can come home to a warm, home-cooked meal that’s ready to serve. The recipes I’ve shared here—baked beans and frankfurter sausage casserole and slow-cooked beef stew—are just the beginning. There’s a whole world of slow cooker possibilities waiting to be explored.

Remember, the beauty of slow cooking lies in its simplicity and adaptability. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients and flavors, and always season to taste. Your slow cooker is more than just an appliance—it’s a tool that can help you deliver nourishing, flavorful meals, no matter how busy life gets.

I hope these recipes inspire you to dust off your slow cooker and start creating. Bon appétit!