Early is good, but getting everything done and everyone organised and out of the house can be a mission.
This morning, for example, between us, we'd reviewed a complex legal document (friend), scheduled social media posts for a client (me), knocked up a packed lunch for 6 and put a casserole in the slow cooker, not to mention negotiated breakfast, and the getting dressed, teeth brushing and leaving the house with 4 lovely but ever so slightly scatty under 12s, and made the train to Waterloo by 9.20 a.m. for a day at the Imperial War Museum...
Slow cooking is a total boon for this sort of day - when you return home culturally replete but, let's face it, knackered, all you need do is knock up some mash (or just soak some couscous, or slice up some bread) and bingo, dinner.
Beef & Chorizo Casserole
Serves at least 4 hungry children and 3 adults
1 kg casserole steak
1 pack 12 mini cooking chorizo
about 20 shallots
5 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic
sunflower (or other) oil
2 * 400g tins cherry tomatoes
2 beef stock cubes
2-3 tsp cornflour
Pre-heat the slow cooker. My friend has an infinitely superior slow cooker to mine, with a timer and a warming setting. Marvellous!
Put the steak in a bowl and sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of plain flour and a couple of grinds of salt & pepper over it.
Halve the chorizo sausages, peel the shallots, peel and chop the carrots so they are similar size to the chorizo. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Heat a tablespoon of so of oil in a medium-large frying pan and start off gently frying the chorizo pieces. Add in the carrot and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes or so before transferring to the slow cooker. If necessary add a little more oil to the an, then brown off the shallots and add to the slow cooker.
Finally, brown off the beef (use a little more oil if you need) in small batches, adding to the slow cooker. Boil the kettle.
Once all the beef is added to the slow cooker, tip in the 2 tins of cherry tomatoes, crumble the stock cubes into one of the empty tins, fill with water, pour into the other empty tin, then add the beefy, tomatoey water into the slow cooker, stir everything round, pop the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours or so.
Go out for the day.
When you return, mix up 2-3 tsp of cornflour with a little cold water, add in some juice from the slow cooker, then tip the whole lot back into the slow cooker for an hour or so to thicken up. Do not sprinkle the cornflour directly into the casserole or it will go lumpy.
Make mash potato, soak couscous, boil pasta, whatever you want to go with the casserole - frankly whatever you have the energy to produce - and serve.
Pour yourself a g&t if you haven't already...