#slowcooked turkey and leeks with crunchy crust

Wow a meaty recipe, can you believe your eyes?! It is true that I don’t cook or eat a lot of meat (and when I do it’s only chicken or turkey), but as Joel is starting solids, I want to give him the opportunity to taste meat along with all the other foods he is trying as part of a very varied introduction to food. So I bought some turkey last weekend and cooked a dish in the slow cooker that was suitable for him to eat with us – most of what we eat is baby-friendly anyway.

turkey leek Collage
Mummy/Daddy-sized, toddler-sized, and baby-sized portions

The turkey went lovely and tender as it was slow cooked, so this was perfect for him who has no teeth quite yet. The vegetables were some of those that we got in our box that week. The ‘crunchy crust’ is a basic suet pastry that I baked separately in the oven as pastry doesn’t work in the slow cooker – it’s not hot enough to get it crunchy rather than soggy. I assembled the turkey and leeks with the crust on our individual dishes when serving the meal. Joel enjoyed munching on some turkey, mushroom and pastry (which went soggy after he gummed it for a while), though he wasn’t sure about the leeks – they are a bit weird to it without teeth I think.

Here’s the recipe, which was a bit more time-consuming than some of my ‘chuck it in the slow cooker’ recipes, but still only took about 20 minutes to prep then 7 hours to cook in the slow cooker plus a quick shove of a baking tray into the oven half an hour before it was ready.

Ingredients – serves 4

  • 250g turkey
  • Olive oil
  • 3 small leeks
  • 3 large mushrooms
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400ml hot stock (I use low salt)
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 60g vegetable suet
  • mixed herbs
  • cold water
Method
  1. Fry turkey for a few minutes in olive oil to seal it.
  2. Chop the leeks and mushrooms and put in the slow cooker pot.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves and add to the pot.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stock.
  5. When the turkey is sealed put it into the pot and stir.
  6. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  7. Mix the flour, suet and herbs together, and add just enough water to form a dough.
  8. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out four large squares.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and chill until about half an hour before the turkey mix is cooked, then put it in the oven at 180ºC and bake for 20-30 minutes until it is crisp and lightly golden.
  10. Assemble the pies individually in bowls by spooning the turkey mix in and placing the pastry on top.
  11. Eat straight away!

Slow cooked pearl barley veggie risotto

Although I knew you could put pearly barley in soups and stews to give a thicker texture, I’d never thought of making a meal in which pearl barley was the main ingredient, used like rice to make a risotto, until I saw it used like this in a recipe in my slow cooker cookbook from which I’ve taken inspiration for various recipes that I’ve come up with. The barley gives it a slightly different taste and texture compared to ordinary risotto with rice, and I like having this for a change. Plus barley is supposed to be good for breast milk production.

The recipe for pearl barley risotto in my book isn’t really my cup of tea because it contains blue cheese, which I don’t like. So I’ve changed all the ingredients except the pearl barley and created a risotto that’s more to my taste. I included a tin of chopped tomatoes because, for risottos in general, I’m into using chopped tomatoes as part of the liquid for cooking the rice – it gives it a good flavour without having to use as much stock, which is great in terms of salt reduction for little ones, and Andrew isn’t too keen on raw tomatoes but will happily eat cooked ones from a tin in sauces on pasta and rice like this. The vegetables in this risotto were those which came in our veg box this week – all our meals these days are planned around what veg we get, and I like this because it makes me think of new things rather than always buying the same kinds of veg week in week out. I also chucked in a tin of canellini beans as the protein in our meal. The final touch was a sprinkling of grated mature cheddar to give an extra boost of flavour.

My boys approved, and Andrew even asked for seconds of ‘zotto’, so it must have gone down well. This recipe was enough for 2 meals for us, so that’s 2 evenings of not having to cook just at the time when we’re all tired and irritable. Result!

Ingredients

  • 230g pearl barley
  • half a large savoy cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 900ml vegetable stock (I use low-salt for toddler)
  • 400g tin canellini beans, drained
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the cheddar into the slow cooker pot and stir to mix them together.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir well before serving with a sprinkling of grated cheese on top.

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