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Recipe - Alison Holst's Crock Pot - 30 Aug

Bacon Wrapped Fruited Chicken Rolls
5-6 hours on LOW or 3 hours on HIGH

 This dish requires some dexterity and cooking experience, however the end result is worth a little effort as it looks most attractive and the flavours and textures are excellent. It could be served on special occasions with pride, but we suggest you do a trial run first! The recipe allows one large, stuffed chicken thigh per person, each cut into 4-5 slices before serving.

2 tsp canola or other oil
1 medium onion
1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries
about 1/2 cup white wine
4-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 100-125g each
8-16 dried apricots
8-16 prunes
salt and pepper
4-8 strips streaky bacon

Turn a medium or large slow cooker to LOW and coat with non-stick spray.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frypan with a lid. Peel the onion, then halve it, from top to bottom, before placing it flat-side down and cutting it into 1cm squares. Lightly brown the onion in the pan, stirring often, covering between times, then transfer them to the slow cooker. Add the cranberries and the wine.
Working with one boneless chicken thigh at a time, place it so the uncut side of the thigh is on the cutting board. Open the cavity where the bone was removed and make a number of small cuts part-way through the flesh, parallel to where the thigh bone was, taking care not to cut right through. When finished, the thigh should lie flat and look much wider.
Cut two prunes and two apricots almost in half lengthwise, and then open them out so the uncut part forms a hinge. Arrange the fruit lengthwise on a chicken thigh, season lightly, then roll up from one side to the other, enclosing the fruit.
Wrap a bacon strip round the rolled thigh, both crosswise and lengthwise, as if it was string round a parcel, securing it with a bamboo skewer pushed right through the package and out the other side. Cut or break off the half with the sharp point, and push it through the chicken at right angles to the other half of the skewer. Do not break off the ends. Brown the bacon-wrapped chicken package on all sides, pushing the skewers backwards and forwards so they are not in the way, but do not remove them.
Repeat, using the remaining ingredients, to make the rest of the packages. As each is browned, put it in the slow cooker, on top of the onion mixture, leaving the skewers in place.
Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on LOW or about 3 hours on HIGH, until the chicken feels tender when tested, then remove the skewers. Thicken the sauce with a little cornflour paste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Slice each parcel crosswise into 4 slices and overlap them, best side up, on a puddle of sauce when serving. (For best results, use a sharp serrated knife - see page 96).

Poached Salmon with Watercress Mayonnaise
HIGH for 30-45 minutes plus 30 minutes standing time

 Slow cookers are great for poaching, especially when a gentle "just at the boil" temperature is called for to cook something fairly delicate like fish.
This recipe makes a great meal (or starter in smaller portions) during spring or summer - the tender pink salmon can be served warm or chilled and it goes really well with the tangy green mayonnaise.

3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 small red onion, cut in wedges
1 lemon, sliced
2 sprigs dill
1 tsp salt
about 500g salmon fillet, pin bones removed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
1/2-1 tsp salt
about 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup lightly packed watercress or rocket leaves

 Turn the slow cooker to HIGH, add the first six ingredients and stir to combine.
Cut the salmon fillet into serving-sized pieces (150g per person is usually sufficient for a main course serving). Gently arrange the pieces in the slow cooker on top of the other ingredients and cook on HIGH for 30-45 minutes. Turn off the cooker and let the fish stand in the cooker for a further 30 minutes.
To make the mayonnaise, place the first four ingredients, plus the lemon zest if using, into a food processor or blender, then add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Process, adding the oil in a thin stream until the mayonnaise is as thick and creamy as you like it. Drop in the leaves and continue processing until they are finely chopped through the mayonnaise. Check the seasoning and add extra salt if required.
When the salmon is cooked, use a fish slice to carefully lift it from the slow cooker and serve immediately or chill until required. Serve topped with a generous spoonful of mayonnaise.
NOTE: Any extra mayonnaise can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Chocolate Self-saucing Pudding
HIGH for 2-3 hours, plus 15-20 minutes standing

 We've seen several different recipes for slow cooker versions of everyone's favourite self-saucing chocolate pudding, but this one - with its remarkably rich sauce considering how little fat is actually added - is a winner!

1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Turn the slow cooker to HIGH and coat the inside of the bowl with non-stick spray.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl. In a small separate bowl whisk the milk, oil and vanilla together. Pour them into the dry ingredients, then fold everything together gently until just combined. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and stir just enough to incorporate them. Pour or spoon the pudding batter into the slow cooker.
Make the sauce by combining the sugar and cocoa powder with the boiling water. Stir or whisk to ensure there are no lumps, then carefully pour the sauce over the batter, getting as much as possible around the edges rather than all in the middle.
Cover and cook for 2-3 hours. When the middle feels about as firm as the edges it is ready. Leave to stand for 15-20 minutes before spooning out and serving with cream or ice cream.