Five warming recipes for your slow cooker (or stove) from Justine Schofield's new cookbook

Incredibly tender and creamy: Hearty chickpea and chicken soup.
Incredibly tender and creamy: Hearty chickpea and chicken soup.  Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

For food writer Justine Schofield, the true appeal of slow cooking is the one-pot concept, which means not only less washing up, but also big-batch cooking and freezer-friendly meals. Her latest book, The Slow Cook, features dishes you can cook in a heavy-based casserole dish, cast-iron pot, ovenproof saute pan or even a baking dish – or set and forget, leaving them to cook completely unattended in a slow cooker.

Either way, Schofield advises planning ahead, because not only do you get to enjoy the food with your family and friends rather than being stuck in the kitchen, but also, if you cook the dishes ahead, they will taste even better.

Hearty chickpea and chicken soup

While this is fabulous cooked in a stockpot, there is something very comforting about coming home after a long day and smelling this beautiful soup gently simmering in the slow cooker. The chicken becomes incredibly tender and the chickpeas become so creamy.

Justine Schofield's new cookbook.
Justine Schofield's new cookbook. Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g (1½ cups) dried chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 80g (⅓ cup) plain yoghurt or sour cream
  • 3 tbsp crispy fried shallots
  • chilli flakes, to serve (optional)

METHOD

  1. Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight, then drain and rinse well.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat and add the onion, celery and fennel. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes until softened with a little colour. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas to the pot and stir well before adding the chicken stock and enough water to cover everything by 5cm. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Turn the heat down to low, cover with the lid and cook for 1 hour. Add the chicken and cook for a further 1 hour, or until the chickpeas are tender and the chicken is falling off the bone.
  4. Remove the chicken from the soup. Shred the meat from the bone; discard the fat and bones. Remove ½ cup of the cooked chickpeas from the soup and reserve to serve.
  5. Spoon 3 ladlefuls of chickpeas and broth into a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender and pulse three or four times. This gives a creamy finish to the soup. If using the blender, pour the puree back into the soup. Check the seasoning; it may need a little extra salt at this stage. Return the chicken to the soup and stir through the spinach, lemon zest and juice.
  6. Divide the soup among bowls and add a dollop of yoghurt or sour cream. Scatter over the crispy fried shallots and reserved chickpeas and fennel fronds. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chilli flakes (if using) and serve.

Note: Alternatively, use two 400g cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas. If cooking the traditional way, cover the canned chickpeas with 2cm of water (instead of 5cm) and cook for 1½ hours; if using the slow cooker, cook on low for 6 hours.

SLOW COOKER METHOD

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Follow steps 1 and 2. Heat the slow cooker on low. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker along with the chickpeas, chicken, stock and enough water to reach the maximum level. Cover and cook for 12 hours, topping up with water if necessary, until the chickpeas are tender. Follow steps 4, 5 and 6.

Serves: 4

Creamed corn with smoked butter
The Slow Cook Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer
Single use only - print and online

Serve as a side with barbecued seafood or just-grilled fish. Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

Creamed corn with smoked butter

The first time I had creamed corn like this was at a steak house in New York as a delicious side with meats and the rest of the trimmings. Of late I've been having this sexy side with barbecued seafood or just-grilled fish. You could transform your creamed corn into a chowder-like soup by simply upping the quantity of stock.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 corn cobs or 700g frozen corn kernels
  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) thickened cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small handful of freshly grated parmesan, to serve (optional)

Smoked butter

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped chipotle in adobo sauce (including sauce) (alternatively, use 1 tsp smoked paprika)
  • salt flakes

METHOD

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, ginger and a pinch of salt. Saute for 8-10 minutes until the onion is softened with a little colour.
  2. Peel the husks and silks away from the corn. Cut off the kernels, sliding the knife close to and along the corn cob.
  3. Add the corn kernels to the dish and coat in the onion mixture before adding the stock. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered with the lid, for 35-40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the corn is tender.
  4. Add the thickened cream to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, to make the smoked butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Continue to cook for 1-3 minutes until the bubbles subside, the milk solids start to turn golden and there is a wonderful nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and add the chipotle in adobo (or paprika) and a pinch of salt.
  6. Ladle one-third of the corn mixture into a blender and blend until smooth, then pour back into the pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender and pulse five or six times to partially puree. Add the lime juice and a pinch of pepper and mix through.
  7. Place the creamed corn in a serving bowl and pour over the smoked butter. Serve with the lime zest and parmesan (if using).

SLOW COOKER METHOD

Follow steps 1 and 2, then pour the onion mixture into the slow cooker and add the corn kernels. Coat the corn in the onion mixture and pour in the stock. Cover and cook on high for 2½-3 hours or on low for 4½-5 hours. Add the thickened cream to the corn mixture and cook, uncovered, on high for a further 20 minutes. Follow steps 5, 6 and 7.

Serves: 4-6

Fish curry
The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer
Single use only - print and online

Everything you want in a curry. Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

Fish curry

I've tested this recipe on my friends and family a few times now and it always gets great reviews. I've tried to keep the ingredients here to a minimum, so it's easy to put together and doesn't overpower the fish. This is everything you want in a curry – fragrant, saucy and visually beautiful with loads of turmeric and garnishes. Also, don't stop at fish; to make this into an even more impressive dish, add other seafood, like prawns, squid and scallops.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 curry leaf sprigs
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric or grated fresh turmeric
  • salt flakes
  • 250g (1 cup) tomato passata
  • 500ml (2 cups) fish stock or chicken stock
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1kg swordfish or kingfish fillets (or any firm white-fleshed fish of your choice), skin removed and pin-boned, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 3 mint sprigs, leaves picked
  • steamed rice, to serve

Curry paste

  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil or vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
  • 3 coriander sprigs, roots and stalks chopped, leaves reserved to serve
  • 2cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, bruised and peeled
  • 4 spring onions, white and light
  • green parts chopped, dark green parts julienned 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, roughly chopped
  • 1 long red chilli

METHOD

  1. To make the curry paste, pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a blender, add the coriander roots and stalks, the ginger, garlic, chopped spring onion, lemongrass and chilli and blend until a smooth paste forms.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the curry leaf sprigs. Fry for a few seconds (be careful as they will spit). Remove one sprig for garnish and drain on paper towel. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring regularly, for 6-8 minutes until fragrant and starting to caramelise. Add a little extra oil if the paste starts to stick. Add the turmeric and a pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the passata to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced by one-third.
  4. Stir the coconut milk into the curry, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until a smooth and creamy sauce forms.
  5. For the spring onion curls, place the julienned spring onion in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate until ready to use. It will curl as it chills.
  6. Combine the lime zest and juice, caster sugar and fish sauce in a bowl.
  7. Add the fish pieces, tomatoes and lime mixture to the curry and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for 5-6 minutes until the fish is just cooked through.
  8. Scatter the spring onion curls, coriander leaves and mint leaves over the fish curry and serve with a side of steamed rice.

SLOW COOKER METHOD

Heat the slow cooker on high. Follow steps 1 and 2. Pour the curry paste into the slow cooker along with the passata and stock, cover and cook for 1½-2 hours. Add the coconut milk and cook for 30-35 minutes. Follow steps 5 and 6. Add the fish, tomatoes and lime mixture to the slow cooker and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. Follow step 8.

Serves: 6

Flemish beef cobbler
The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer
Single use only - print and online

Perfect wintry Sunday meal. Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

Flemish beef cobbler 

This is my idea of a perfect wintry Sunday meal – a hearty Belgian-inspired beef stew that, with the addition of dark ale, has extra depth of flavour and, if that isn't enough, is topped with a savoury, buttery, crumbly cobbler of cheesy scones. The cobbler is the perfect substitute for mash, pasta or rice and is extra special as it soaks up the lovely sauce while it cooks on top of the stew.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg chuck steak, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1½ tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 375ml (1½ cups) dark ale or beer
  • 500ml (2 cups) beef stock
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)

Cheesy cobbler

  • 450g (3 cups) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt flakes
  • 120g unsalted butter, chopped and chilled
  • 200g cheddar, grated
  • 360ml buttermilk, plus 2 tbsp extra for brushing

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C fan-forced (160C conventional).
  2. Place the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chuck steak in the seasoned flour to coat, then shake off the excess.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish over high heat. Add the chuck steak in two batches and cook for 3-4 minutes until browned all over, then remove from the dish. Set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the dish over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and worcestershire sauce and cook for a further 1 minute, or until just sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the ale or beer and bring to the boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any bits from the bottom of the dish. Add the stock and bay leaves and bring to the boil.
  5. Return the chuck steak to the dish.
  6. Cover the dish with the lid and transfer to the oven to braise for 1¾-2 hours until the beef is tender. Remove the lid and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, for the cheesy cobbler, place the flour, nutmeg and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, reserving a small handful for topping, and then slowly incorporate the buttermilk until the dough is soft and a little sticky. Do not overwork the dough.
  8. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc about 3cm thick. Cut out 11 or 12 rounds with a floured 6cm cookie cutter, re-rolling if necessary. Place on a tray and chill until required.
  9. Increase the oven temperature to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).
  10. Arrange the cheesy cobbler rounds on top of the stew, brush with the extra buttermilk and sprinkle over the reserved cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Scatter on some parsley to serve, if desired.

SLOW COOKER METHOD

Follow steps 2, 3 and 4. Tip the vegetable mixture into the slow cooker, add the beef and stir through. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce is thick. Transfer the stew to a casserole dish and continue with steps 7-10.

Serves: 6-8

Slow-cooked beef stroganoff
The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer
Single use only - print and online

Finished off with lots of sour cream and adorned with fresh herbs and cornichons. Photo: Rob Palmer/Plum

Slow-cooked beef stroganoff 

Beef stroganoff, a popular mid-week family favourite, is traditionally made by quickly cooking lean meat in a creamy mushroom sauce. I adore it and thought, surely, it couldn't be improve? But it can. Slowly cooking chuck steak in worcestershire sauce and mushroom stock (from soaking dried porcini mushrooms) makes this version super special, especially when it's finished off with lots of sour cream and adorned with fresh herbs and cornichons. A famous Russian dish that dates back to the 19th century and has been given a bit of a revamp – now, who wouldn't love that?

INGREDIENTS

  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5kg chuck steak, cut into 4cm pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g button mushrooms
  • 5 French shallots, 4 chopped and 1 finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • a splash of worcestershire sauce
  • 120g sour cream, plus extra to serve
  • reginette or pappardelle, to serve
  • 3 dill fronds and/or flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • gherkins, to serve

METHOD

  1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 500ml (2 cups) of hot water. Let stand for 15 minutes to soften.
  2. Combine the paprika, flour and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat all over (this can also be done in a zip-lock bag as it's much easier to coat evenly). Heat half the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches and sear on all sides until browned, then remove from the pan.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the button mushrooms, chopped shallot and garlic and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until well browned.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and add the worcestershire sauce, then the roughly chopped porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Bring to the boil, season with a little more salt and turn the heat down to low. Cover with the lid and braise for 1½-2 hours until the beef is tender.
  5. Stir the sour cream into the beef stroganoff and cook over medium heat for a further 5-8 minutes until a rich sauce forms. Check the seasoning; I usually like to add another splash of worcestershire sauce.
  6. Serve the beef stroganoff on pasta topped with another dollop of sour cream, the dill and/or parsley and a sprinkle of extra paprika. Serve with gherkins on the side.

SLOW COOKER METHOD

Follow steps 1, 2 and 3. Place the beef and mushrooms in the slow cooker along with the worcestershire sauce, roughly chopped porcini mushrooms and 250ml (1 cup) of their soaking liquid (leave the sediment at the bottom of the bowl). Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-9 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the sour cream to the beef stroganoff and cook on high for a further 10-15 minutes until the rich sauce is heated through. Check the seasoning. Follow step 6.

Serves: 4-6

This is an edited extract from The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer. Buy now