Have you heard people talk about and extoll the benefits of slow cooking but aren’t quite sure what the term really means? Our guide explains it all, from the cooking methods, times and temperatures involved to the benefits of slow cooking.
Slow cooking can entail any cooking method that uses a low heat over a long period of time. Ovens, cooktops and BBQs can all be used for slow cooking if set to a low temperature. Slow cookers are specifically designed for slow cooking - consisting of a ceramic bowl with a glass lid, they are electrically heated, can be left slowly cooking for multiple hours and are geared toward one-pot meals.
Cooking time and temperature
Slow cooking temperatures should be kept to a minimum, to allow you to cook your food for several hours - anything from 3 hours to 10+.
The benefits of slow cooking
Once the food is cooking, it can be left for hours, allowing you to get on with your day. This makes slow cooking great for mid-week dinners and when you’re entertaining - you can clean the house, prepare other courses, get yourself ready and spend time with your guests when they arrive rather than be slaving away in a hot kitchen.
Slow cooking breaks down the connective tissues and melts the fat of tougher cuts of meat such as lamb shoulder and pork belly, rendering them incredibly tender. It also breaks down the tough fibres of root vegetables. The food retains or gains moistness and tender softness.
Taste and aroma
Over a long period of time, flavours are infused and intensified, which makes the dish taste better and fills the house with mouth-watering aromas.
Slow cooking was made for inexpensive ingredients. Chuck in some basic vegetables, lentils, beans and cheaper cuts of meat and the slow cooking method will intensify their flavours and make the meat deliciously tender.
Cooking slowly on a low heat means you don’t have to pour in copious amounts of oil or dollop in butter, nor do you have to add either to your finished creation as the method allows the food to release its own delicious juices. Cooking meat on the bone also adds collagen, gelatin and a wealth of minerals to the food, all of which offer many health benefits - improved liver function, digestion and muscle recovery to name but a few.