Despite the name, the Slow Food Movement is not affiliated with slow cookers or slow cooking. Founded in Italy in 1989, the name Slow Food was chosen to counter the concept of fast food.
A non-profit network of members who belong to convivia (local branches) around the world, Slow Food is about recognising the link between good food, community and the environment.
Traditionally, communities have come together over food – whether it be for special events or simply to buy and sell produce at the local market. Unfortunately, this has been lost in the modern concept of one-stop supermarkets. Our busy lifestyles make the late-night dash to the supermarket or the local takeaway a tempting option. But making the effort to visit smaller shops run by people who are passionate about what they are selling is a pleasure, and you often end up with more nutritious, satisfying and, in many cases, less expensive meals.
Even though slow cooking is not directly associated with Slow Food, it's a method of cooking that can make eating locally, seasonably and sustainably much more achievable, on a daily basis, too. Just throw all the ingredients in a pot and it'll be ready by the time you get home. There’s nothing like walking through the door at the end of a long day’s work to be greeted by the homey smell of something delicious bubbling away.
Here, members of Slow Food Australia share recipes for their favourite slow cooked dishes.
1. Basic chicken stock
Alison Peake, president of Slow Food Melbourne, believes the base of any good slow-cooked meal is a beautiful, homemade stock. “It’s about being careful how you use your time,” says Peake. “It doesn’t take long to chop up the vegies to make a stock, and you can always freeze it to use later.” Peake likes to use stock to make slow-cooked oven casseroles. “Fry up an onion, brown off the meat, add a few chopped vegies, cover with stock, let it cook away for two to three hours and voila!” she says.
Slow Food Melbourne supports various farmers’ markets around Melbourne, including those at the charming Abbotsford Convent, held on the fourth Saturday of every month. Click here
for more details on markets and events.
2. Roman lamb (abbacchio all Romana)
Jenny Dudgeon, Slow Food convivium leader, Hobart, recently created a slow-cooked Roman lamb shank casserole, which was served to the 50 attendees of the recent Slow Food Hobart AGM. Dudgeon worked with her predecessor, Judith Sweet, a convivium leader for 10 years, to recreate this ancient Roman recipe that Sweet discovered on her first visit to Italy. The lamb was supplied and lovingly prepared by Sweet’s local butcher – Marcus Vermey of Vermey’s Quality Meats, Sandy Bay.
For local and seasonal produce, Dudgeon recommends the Hobart Farmers’ Market (held every Sunday) and Salamanca Markets. Slow Food Tasmania also runs an initiative that encourages farmers to bring their produce to a common place in their community to sell. Visit www.slowfoodhobart.com
for more information.
3. Basic dahl
Slow cooking is the perfect method for making the most of fragrant spices and herbs, because it allows the flavours to really permeate a dish. Anne Elliot, of Slow Food Blue Mountains, says, “Spices and herbs are perfect for winter meals and also help ward off colds.” Elliot loves to cook up a heart-warming dahl. “It’s cheap, filling and can also form the base to other meals.” She suggests turning leftover dahl into rissoles, adding it to other stews, and even serving it with a roast.
Slow Food Blue Mountains runs a number of community initiatives including The Fruit and Nut Tree Network (which runs apple tree pruning workshops and local fruit and nut markets), a home garden program, themed dinners and farmers’ markets. Visit www.slowfoodbluemountains.com.au
for more information on special dinners, events and initiatives.
4. Slow-cooked freekeh "risotto"
Oday Kamal, co-founder of the Youth Food Movement, Sydney, was chosen as the 2010 Asia and Oceania representative for Terra Madre
– a bi-annual conference that brings people together from all over the world to discuss food security, food innovation, gastronomy, and much more. In 2010, he co-founded the Youth Food Movement, Australia (YFMA), that aims to bring young people together through food and the issues that surround it.
This recipe is for slow-cooked freekeh – a Lebanese dish that, for
Kamal, evokes many memories of meals with family and friends.
YFMA ran a gastronomic bike tour around the city as part of the 2010 Sydney International Food Festival, and plans are underway for a repeat this year. YFMS is also beginning a free breakfast program for students at the University of Technology Sydney. Stay up to date with events on the YFMA Facebook page
Slow cooking isn’t necessarily limited to the kitchen. David Inverarity, of Slow Food Adelaide Hills and Barossa, says, “Camp-oven cooking is a simplified, longer cooking exercise that people enjoy because it’s outside.” Traditionally a heavy cast-iron cook pot on hot coals, (Inverarity prefers the lighter pressed steal Bedourie version
), camp-oven cooking is ideal for slow cooking – not only because the coals create a natural low heat, but also because, when camping, people have the time to stand around the fire, have a chat and wait for the meal to cook. Inverarity draws much of his inspiration from the iconic book by Broken Hill bushrangers Jack and Reg Absalom, Outback Cooking in the Camp Oven
Inverarity recommends Adelaide Central Market
, Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
, Barossa Farmers Market
, and Willunga Farmers Market
for stocking up on ingredients.
Slow Food Adelaide and Barossa is holding an inaugural Camp Oven Cookoff on Sunday, September 4, 2011, at Mylor Oval. For information on farmers' markets, Slow Food events and activities (including the Camp Oven Cookoff) in and around Adelaide, contact Helen Kearney at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0416 263 522.
5. Spicy chickpea casserole
Being a vegetarian, Darren Bain, treasurer of Slow Food's Gold Coast convivium, enjoys cooking up vegetable-filled meals, with chickpeas added for protein.
“Chickpeas, eggplant, pumpkin, potato, capsicum and onions tenderise really well in the slow-cooking process,” he says. Bain often shops for ingredients at the colourful Mudgeeraba Farmers Markets
with his wife and daughter. The Gold Coast convivium runs regular events that support local restaurants, producers and community. Visit www.slowfoodgoldcoast.com
for more information.
6. Rolled beef brisket with Delaware dauphinois
A member of Slow Food since the 1990s, Sophie Zalokar was selected to attend Terra Madre as a chef delegate in 2008 and went on to start the WA Southern Forests convivium in 2009. Zalokar also owns and runs Foragers Field Kitchen and Cooking School
, a farm-based cooking school and dining room with self-contained accommodation also available. Cooking classes for people of all levels and themed long-table dinners are run throughout the year and are open to both the public and in-house guests (bookings essential).
Slow cooking lends itself to the honest, country-style food that Zalokar is renowned for, and she doesn’t shy away from using this cooking method to tenderise “inferior” cuts of meat. “Brisket is a great cut of beef that requires long slow cooking and is cheap. I've rolled it with tapenade and braised it long and slow with fantastic results. I've also made brawn from pigs’ head and trotters, although this dish is not for the faint-hearted to prepare,” she says. For a slow-cooked dessert, Zalokar recommends slow-poached quince or her favourite – steamed Sussex Pond Pudding
Zalokar sources organic vegetables from the Edwards family in Manjimup, dairy products are from Bannister Downs, beef from the Della Gola family and chicken from Mount Barker.
Visit the Manjimup Farmers Market (held the third Saturday of the month) to sample a seasonal, inexpensive dish from the Slow Food Southern Forests stall. Visit www.slowfoodsouthernforests.org.au
for more information.