How To Cook – Slow Cooker Lamb

slow cooker spanish lamb, lamb in a slow cooker, Italian slow cooker lamb

The slow cooker. An amazing invention which fell out of favour for some reason or other but is making a come back and should be in everyone’s kitchen gadget list. The set and forget style of cooking that turns cheaper cuts of meat into meltingly tender mega meals has one slight draw back. This being that most recipes require an element of pre cooking in a separate pan before being loaded into the slow cooker. Although this only takes a couple of minutes it somewhat detracts from the hassle free “chuck it all in and leave it” dream I aspire to. I also don’t like washing up/unloading dishwashers.

Browning meat, although not required does add a fuller flavour to the meat and is probably worth the extra effort but can be omitted. Sauteing vegetables unfortunately is a must for most slow cooker recipes – you don’t get the fullness of flavour if you skip this step. You of course can but the dish will be missing out on something. That something being properly cooked flavourful veg. Take a curry for instance, if you don’t fry the onions it’s not going to taste right.

I’ve had a few slow cookers in my time. One I smashed the lid, one I set on fire by accidentally leaving on top of my ceramic hob and not noticing I’d turned the wrong ring on or off as the case may be. This was fun. If you class melting plastic, acrid smoke and fire as fun.

Due to this minor mishap I needed a new slow cooker. I found one that revolutionised my mid week meals. Rather than being your standard ceramic pot it was aluminum – meaning you could brown the meat and saute the veg in the one pot! As this saved time and washing up I’ve used it loads, at least once a week since having it. There’s a link to it at the bottom of the page….

I’ll post a link to it and highly recommend getting one….the image above is of the spanish style after minimal browning and before the whole 5-6 hr slow cooker treatment.

Anyway, Slow cooker lamb. It’s super easy and really handy for getting a mid week meat fix on or a Sunday “roast” when you plan not to be in to actually cook it.

I’ve done a couple of variations so far. The standard Italian garlic and rosemary combo and the Spanish style with smoked paprika, garlic and thyme. Both are incredibly easy, give great results and follow the same method of cooking. That being brown the meat quickly on as many sides as possible, saute the veg and cook with a small amount of white wine or water.

Even if you haven’t got a hob ready slow cooker give them a go, they’ll save time and feed a crowd.

Italian style

1 leg or shoulder of Lamb
Lots of garlic sliced or squashed
Half a bunch of fresh Rosemary (smashed about a bit)
2 sliced onions
Optional – A few peeled and sliced potatoes
Salt and black pepper to season the lamb pre browning
1/2 glass of white wine or water

In a pan (or hob ready slow cooker) heat 1 table spoon of olive oil. When sizzling quickly brown the lamb on as many sides as possible – just add a bit of colour here and there for flavor. Remove and set to one side. Add the slived onion to the pan and saute for a few minutes until softened. At this stage add the potato and saute for a further few minutes ensuring that both the onion and potato take on some colour without burning. Add the garlic and rosemary and fry for a further minute or so to release the flavour.

Tip the veg and garlic mixture into the slow cooker and place the lamb leg/shoulder on top. Pour over the wine/water and place the slow cooker heat setting on low, put the lid on and leave for 5 or 6 hours or until the meat starts falling off the bone. Although slow cookers vary in heat/cooking times you should be good for at least 5 hours on the low setting which enables you to go out/go back to bed without fear of overcooking as the moisture stays in the cooker. If you’re around try and turn the lamb over half way through cooking time, not essential but nice to do. Don’t open the slow cooker more than once as this means moisture will escape! And you need that…

Spanish Style

1 leg or shoulder of Lamb
Lots of garlic sliced or squashed
1 bunch of fresh thyme (smashed about a bit)
2 Table spoons of smoked paprika (preferably sweet but hot will also do)
Optional – A few peeled and sliced potatoes
Salt and pepper to season the lamb pre browning.
1/2 glass of white wine or water

Follow the cooking guide as above with the exception of whilst browning the lamb in oil add 1 table spoon of the paprika. Add the second table spoon of paprika over the lamb after you’ve set it on the potatoes/onions and garlic mix. Also exchange the rosemary for thyme….

I tend not to add the sliced potatoes to these recipes as I’m more of a fan of roast potatoes. Again being lazy I get a pack of new or baby potatoes, cover them in oil/salt and pepper/herb of choice, lay them on a baking tray with garlic and roast in a hot oven for 30-45 mins before the lamb is ready.