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Slow cooker tips for delicious winter dinners

Slow cookers really are the family’s best winter friend.

It’s a great kitchen gadget for preparing a nutritious family meal with very little effort. You can get dinner prepped and cooking in the morning and avoid juggling cooking during the witching hour! Plus, slow cooking food allows the flavours to develop more intensity and you can make the most of budget cuts of meat. Another bonus is that a slow cooker can cut down on the washing up!

It can take a while to get used to cooking with a slow cooker because there are some subtle differences to stove based cooking. Save yourself the trouble and check out these great tips from Munch on using a slow cooker:

• Plan dishes that utilise cheaper cuts of meat and bulk up with legumes or vegetables to make it go further.

• Try not to take the lid off too often; it will let the heat escape and slow the cooking process down.

• You don’t need to add oil to a slow cooker; the contents won’t catch as long as there’s enough moisture in there. You don’t need a lot of fat on your meat either.

• Liquid doesn’t really evaporate from a slow cooker. If you’re adapting a standard recipe, it’s best to reduce the liquid by roughly a third. The liquid should just cover the meat/vegetables.

• Don’t overfill your slow cooker. It should be about half to two thirds full.

• Save time by preparing everything you need for your slow-cooked meal the night before, put it into the slow-cooker dish, cover and store in the fridge overnight. Then put it on to cook before you rush out the door in the morning.

• Use your “low” setting as much as you can. It’s safer and flavours develop better over the longer period of time.

• Root vegetables can take longer than meat and other vegetables so put these near the heat source, at the bottom of the pot.

Slow cooker lemon tarragon chicken

Prep time
5 minutes

Cook time
6 hours
Serves: 4 – 6 people


• 1.5kg whole chicken
• 2 lemons
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2-3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 large bunch of tarragon
• An oven bag


1. Place the chicken into the oven bag in the slow cooker or on the roasting tray.

2. In a pestle and mortar place 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of half a lemon, olive oil, and half of the remaining tarragon and grind up.

3. Cut a few slits in the skin of the chicken then pour the olive oil mixture over the chicken rubbing it over and under the skin, over the flesh and inside the cavity of the chicken.

4. Cut the remaining lemon in half and place into the cavity of the chicken along with the rest of the tarragon.

5. Cook in an oven bag in the slow cooker for six hours.

6. Note – this makes: 4 adult, 2 toddler and 4 baby portions.

By Michelle Kitney, www.munchnz.co.nz.
Munch is an eco-friendly New Zealand company that makes and markets kitchen products and offers ideas and recipes to feed the family. It is “useful, beautiful and green.”

Food, glorious food: we’ve got more family food ideas in our food section.

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