Slow cooking takes us back to our roots when our ancestors sat a heavy pot on the slow burning bed of wood in the fire. As cultures evolved the pot moved into the houses and hung over the fire in traditional inglenook fireplaces.
In Britain the peasant dish consisted of vegetables, beans, legumes, grains and herbs, which would have been added daily to a continuous stew, and served to the family. In times of plenty there would have been some meat and fat, but this was more common with the wealthier classes.
Varying in the regions, traditional dishes of slow cooked local ingredients were developed: pottage in England, cawl in Wales, stew in Ireland and regional dishes such as scouse in Scotland.
At the end of the working day, there was always a hot meal ready, and the long slow cooking allowed the harder fibrous vegetables and grains to break down, releasing their flavours, along with their nutrition, and making them more digestible.
Using the right pot is important for this type of cooking: choose one with a well fitting lid, as the ingredients release their liquids they need to be captured so they don’t evaporate, forming the sauce in which the other ingredients will cook. This allows the dry ingredients to soften and absorb the aromatics of the herbs and spices, and slowly permeate the flavours into the vegetables and into the sauce.
I like to use a clay pot, as I find the flavours seem to meld together better, but you can use a metal pan. For using a slow cooker, I’ve gien the adjusted method below. The type of pot will also alter the cooking time so the first time you make this dish be prepared to adjust the timings. Metal pans or casseroles will cook the dish quicker than ceramic.
Although this sounds like it takes a long time, the effort is at the start of the recipe, and then the method does the work, in terms of time, really it’s fast food!
~Jo, Head Chef
2 tbsp Rapeseed Oil, or similar
3 Medium Onions, peeled + quartered
2 Leeks, washed + cut into 3cm chunks
3 Carrots, washed + cut into 3cm chunks
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled + left whole
2 Turnips, washed + cut into quarters
400g Dried Beans of choice, soaked overnight + drained, or 2 x 400g cans of beans
80g Dehydrated Tomatoes, or 6 medium tomatoes or 1 tin
Few Sprigs of herbs of choice; Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
2 Bay Leaves
5 Juniper Berries, crushed
1.5L Vegetable Stock
1 level tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
2 tbsp Cider Vinegar
Handful of Parsley, chopped
200g Kale, chopped
Sea Salt + Pepper for seasoning
Oven Cooking Method
- Preheat the oven to 140c
- Heat the oil in your pot on the hob, lightly fry the onion + leek until they are golden in colour(If your pot can’t be heated from the bottom, do this stage in a frying pan first)
- Take off the heat, add the carrots, garlic, turnips, beans, tomatoes, herbs, bay leaves, juniper berries, mustard. Cover with stock
- Don’t add salt at this stage as will make the beans tough.
- Cook for 2-4 hours.
- Time will vary depending on the type of pot + the size of the beans
- When beans are soft add the vinegar, parsley, kale + season
- Stir in + cook for 25 mins
Slow Cooker Method
- Heat the oil lightly in a frying pan
- Fry onion + leek until golden in colour, transfer to slow cooker pot (you can skip this stage but it does improve the flavour)
- Add all ingredients except salt, cider vinegar, kale + parsley
- Cook on low for 8 hours
- Season + stir in cider vinegar, kale, parsley
- Cook for a further 20 minutes
Serve with herby mixed root mash, crusty bread or your starch of choice.
🍅 Please use this recipe more as a guideline, using whatever vegetables and beans you like or have available. Instead of beans, substitute chickpeas or lentils, spinach instead of kale, swede instead of turnips, swap juniper berries for fennel seeds… there are no set rules.
🍅 At 42 Acres we dehydrate our own tomatoes when we have a glut, and use them throughout the year. You can substitute fresh or tinned ones for this recipe.
🍅 We love the Hodmedods range of UK grown beans and pulses.
🍅 Suitable for the coeliac, gluten free and vegan diets.
🍅 Serve with a herby mixed root mash, crusty bread or your starch of choice.