Slowly, slowly…


HEARTY AND HEALTHY Red’s chickpea and sausage slow-cook.

Redmond Cabot

So I was reading up on this whole ‘slow cooker’ thing. A week or so ago, in a fit of shopping weakness, I purchased a dedicated slow cooker, all fancy and boxed up.
Growing up, we had slow-cooked food – but of a different kind. It came from the beast of the Aga that sat in our kitchen. Requiring grate-rattling, ash removal into buckets, and twice-filling with coal every day, this colossus came complete with personalised hot-spots, with temperature control dictated by how high the wind was blowing. Timing was controlled by who was around to push or pull this or that pot around the various spots.
This shiny new slow cooker I had bought displayed four controls: Off, low, medium, high. It appeared that most things required around four to six hours’ slow cooking, so I decided to give it a go. What could go wrong?
To give the machine the best chance at creating a great meal, I thought I’d use the best quality ingredients. I headed to PAX, a new store in Westport’s Market Lane, for some top-class ingredients. This organic food shop and sustainable grocery is creating waves by allowing customers to purchase cupboard staples – such as cereals, coffee, beans, dried fruit, grains, nuts, oils, pasta, seeds, spices, tea, vinegar – without the packaging, and in whatever quantity they desire. Customers simply fill up a preused recyclable containers. Pax also sell reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items.
I picked up chickpeas, which I soaked overnight. The next day I was back in to pick up some delicious, organic tinned tomatoes, paprika, chilli powder and corrinader seeds. Then I had a great idea – I asked them could I cook the pot on their premises (free electricity always makes me happy!) to give Pax customers some ideas about how to use the ingredients on sale. It worked a treat.

Red’s chickpea and sausage slow-cook
The big question was whether to cook and brown the meat in a pan first before adding it to the slow cooker? I decided I’d brown it first, for the flavour, and to cook out some of the fat and crispen the sausages’ skin.

What you need

  • 400g chickpeas, soaked
  • 6 sausages, browned and chopped
  • 1/3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • One white onion, roughly chopped
  • Two fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 litre vegetable stock
  • Tsp corriander seeds
  • 1/3 tsp thyme
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 1 fresh red chili, chopped
  • Seasoning

*Vegetarians could use veggie sausages, mushrooms or tofu.

What you do
Having soaked your chickpeas overnight, give them a wash. Peel or wash and cut all your veg. Add all your ingredients into your slow cooker (bigger pieces go on the bottom) and turn on to medium for five hours. Check the result, and serve with crusty breads or bowls of steamed rice.
A couple of us gathered to taste the food, and the taste was amazing, all intermingled and homely. The structure was a touch crunchy for the chickpeas, even after five hours, and it could be argued that there was a possibly a touch too much sauce, but that’s really a matter for your own preference. Overall, the dish was a great success and real inspiration for future attempts.
Slow down, you move too fast … feeling groovy!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.

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