Slow Cooker BBQ Slab O’ Ribs

Succulent, Fall-Off-The-Bone "BBQ" Ribs

Succulent, Fall-Off-The-Bone “BBQ” Ribs

Beloved has a secret, guilty pleasure. He watches “Barbecue Pit Masters” when he thinks we are all busy.  Not that I blame him, fire and a slab of beautiful meat strikes a primal chord in all of us. I set out to reproduce some of the delectable dishes I’d seen him drooling over. Lacking a smoking pit, or a full day to pamper and fuss over the slab of meat I brought home from the Butcher, I cheated. The results would have a Pit Master sniffing disdainfully at my claim to Barbecue Ribs .. but I bet they’d come back for seconds once they’d tried it. Beloved certainly did 🙂

Moroccan Lamb “Tagine”

Moroccan Lamb "Tagine" cooked in a Crockpot

Moroccan Lamb “Tagine” cooked in a Crockpot

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One of our favourite low-fuss recipes for a cold Winter night is adapted from a Northern African dish cooked in a conical earthenware pot called a tagine.  I don’t have a tagine, or the charcoal fire it sits in, but that hasn’t stopped me pressing my crockpot into service to produce a satisfying facsimile. Close your eyes and let the rich aroma carry you off to the kasbah 🙂

Rich Beef Stroganoff Wyld Style

Beef Stroganoff Wyld Style

Beef Stroganoff Wyld Style

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Sometime ago I wrote of Beloved’s famous Stroganoff, and gave you my meatballs version. This is the original in all of its glory. On face value it’s chunky and bucolic, but each delectable morsel has its own subtly layered flavours that blend together into an exquisite whole. Enjoy with buttered noodles and the rest of the bottle of wine you cook it with. Choose a full bodied wine for this, one with a slightly acid finish, such as a Merlot or Cabernet.

Chili con Carne de Cerdo (Pork with Chili)

Chili con Carne de Cerdo

Chili con Carne de Cerdo

A crockpot (slow cooker) is a fine thing, it makes cheating so very easy. There is something wonderful about coming home from work to be greeted by cooking smells and dinner already prepared.  I like to make this in the evening, leave it to cook overnight, turn it off in the morning and allow it to cool. By dinner time the flavours are perfectly blended. Like most stews, it is much better the next day.

There are two ways of preparing meat for any kind of stew. The first is “Alla Blanca“, where you cut the meat up and add it to the liquid while still raw. The second method involves searing the meat before adding it to the liquid. This caramelises sugars inside the meat, adding depth and complexity to the dish. Don’t get me wrong, you can throw all of the ingredients into a crockpot, come back hours later and the result will be delicious .. but to me it is lacking something subtle. Like hearing Carmina Burana accompanied by a piano 🙂

Meatball Stroganoff

Meatball Stroganoff

Meatball Stroganoff

One of the things that initially drew Beloved and I together was our love of cooking. Back in the day, he ran a little bistro that had become justifiably famous for his amazingly rich, complex Beef Stroganoff. He has cooked it for me many times, and I am always struck by how “layered” the dish is. The trick, you see, is to cook it as three dishes linked by the creamy sauce. Meat, mushrooms, bacon bring their own unique element to the mix and the flavours play together magically. I’ve used this method and added my own twist.