Ah, slow cooker meals. I love them so, so much. By the time you come home from work your house smells amazing, dinner is more or less ready, and you’ve forgotten all the work you did 8 hours ago before you started the slow cooker. The trouble is that since slow cookers do save time, a lot of recipes for them rely heavily on shortcuts from processed foods, like canned soups, jarred salsa, ketchup, barbeque sauce, blahhhh. I was determined to find a cookbook with a fresher approach to slow cooking. So I checked a good looking one out from my library, Slow Cooking by Antony Worrall Thompson.
The recipes in this cookbook are so much more exciting than other slow cooker recipes I’ve seen. Thompson chose his recipes from all over the world – India, Thailand, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. A few of them involve more exotic meats like sweetbreads, calf’s liver, and octopus that realistically I don’t see myself ever making, but there’s also a wealth of straightforward beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian recipes that I would definitely try. In fact, I’m already planning to make another one (Italian Leek Stew) out of this cookbook later this week.
I selected a lamb dish, very similar to a curry, that we already had most of the ingredients for in the cupboard. The only item that took some tracking down was mustard oil, which I was not at all familiar with. According to this NY Times article, it’s a pretty big deal in the culinary world and can be found at any Indian grocery store. I’m lucky that I now live in a place with many Indian grocery stores, so a quick trip and $2.49 later, I had mustard oil. (Honestly though, I think you would still have a very flavorful dish if you swapped it for vegetable oil.) Interestingly, mustard oil is only legally approved in the United States for use as a massage oil. It says “For external use only” right on the bottle. I have yet to rub any on my skin, but the lamb seemed to like it. Zing!
The cookbook said this recipe serves 4. I think it easily made enough for 6 servings, especially with the basmati on the side. I would definitely make it again if the weather is cold outside and I have a big group to feed.
Pot-Roasted Lamb with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes, and Spices
- 1 3/4 lb boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1in dice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 sweet potatoes cut into 1in chunks
- 14oz can whole tomatoes
- 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups lamb or chicken stock
- 3-4 tsp garam masala
- 2 handfuls spinach
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
for the marinade:
- 3 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-6 medium-sized hot green chiles
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2in piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp superfine sugar
- basmati rice
- Mix the lamb with all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add a little salt to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for at least 2 hours at room temperature to marinate (or for 24 hours in the fridge).
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil to smoking, reduce the heat to medium, then add the meat and all the marinade ingredients. Stir-fry for 12-15 minutes until brown all over but not scorched. Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker.
- Add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, and stock. Stir to mix well. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the meat is cooked.
- Stir in the garam masala, spinach and peas, turn to high, and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Serve with steamed basmati rice.
Serves 4 (Generously.)