My trusty slow cooker was the best moving-in present I ever got. Pop everything in there in the morning and when you return in the (now dark) early evening, the place is filled with rich home cooked smells and dinner is almost there.
This is my mum’s recipe, adapted from one by another queen of cooking Delia Smith (they even share the same surname). Pork is a frugal meat but packed with flavour; slow cooked it just melts in the mouth, helped along by cider and apples. I serve it with braised red cabbage, crisp green beans and whole grain mustard mashed potato.
Serves 6 (but you can adapt accordingly)
900g / six thick pork belly cuts
3 medium apples (Cox or Gala)
2/3 big cloves of garlic
a little dried sage (or mixed herbs)
2 large white onions
a glug or two of cider vinegar (optional)
500ml bottle of dry cider (I used Frome Valley)
salt and pepper to season
2 tablespoons of oil
Begin by browning the meat in 2 tablespoons of oil and set aside, meanwhile slice the onions into nice chunky rings and fry them until soft and staring to brown. Core and slice the apples (skin on) ready to put into the slow cooker.
Now arrange the slow cooker, onions first then the pork and season with crushed garlic, salt, pepper and dried herbs. Pop the apples on top and pour the cider vinegar and the dry cider over. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8/9 hours or high for 5/6 hours.
It really is as simple as that, and produces a dish that always cheats the taste buds (or the guests) as to the amount of effort involved. You have meat, sauce and gravy all in one pot. Now you are free to serve with sides of your choice, but I suggest serving atop a basic wholegrain mustard mash to hold the cider juices. Steam some green beans and then finish off with…
My ‘tarted-up red cabbage’
It doesn’t matter how healthy red cabbage might be, it can be slightly boring. This quick recipe is adapted from one that my mum makes each and every Christmas. Hers takes over 4 hours to cook (and is well worth the wait) however this one can be knocked up in under 30 minutes.
1 medium red cabbage, shredded (feeds about 6)
a little olive oil
25 ml of cider vinegar
25g of muscovado sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the cabbage in the oil over a medium heat until softened, then pour over the cider vinegar until it stops steaming (the fumes are pretty potent so don’t breathe them in). Then sprinkle over the sugar, until it has completely dissolved. Be careful not to burn it in the process. Now simmer it over a low heat, turning frequently and luxuriously until the cabbage is as soft as you like it. Voila.
Words & Pics: Czaralee Anderson