Using the Slow Cooker as a Bain-Marie
Using the Slow Cooker as a Bain-Marie
While many dishes are cooked directly in the ceramic cooking pot, others may be cooked in a bain-marie – in a tin (pan) or dish placed inside the cooking pot and surrounded by barely simmering water. This technique is good for making pates, terrines, cakes, steamed pudding and custard-based desserts. To allow the water to move freely around the cooking container, an upturned saucer or metal pastry ring is often placed on the base of the cooking pot. This is important if the cooking pot has a slightly concave base.
Making pates and terrines
When raw meat and eggs are used, make sure that the depth of the mixture is no greater than 6cm/2 ¼ in, otherwise the pate may not cook thoroughly. This is especially important with pork and chicken. A 450g/ 1lb terrine or loaf tin measuring about 20×10×5.5cm/8×4×2 ¼ in and holding a volume of 900ml/1 ½ pints/3 ¾ cups is an ideal size.
Making classic pork pate
You can use this recipe as a guide for making other pates. You can vary the proportions of the main ingredients, and can use lean minced (ground) beef or pork in place of the veal.
225g/8oz rindless smoked streaky (fatty) bacon rashers (strips)
225g/8oz boneless belly of pork
115g/4oz chicken livers
45ml/3 tbsp dry white wine
15ml/1 tbsp brandy
2.5ml/ ½ tsp dried thyme
2.5ml/ ½ tsp dried rosemary
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5ml/ ½ tsp salt
1.5ml/ ¼ tsp ground mace ground black pepper
- Place an upturned saucer or metal pastry cutter in the base of the ceramic cooking pot. Pour in about 2.5cm/ 1 in of the very hot water, then turn the slow cooker to high.
- Taking 150g/5oz of the bacon, stretch one rasher at a time on a board using the back of a large knife. Use to line a 450g/1 lb loaf tin, or a 900ml/1 ½ pint/3 ¾ cup round dish, leaving the bacon overhanging the sides.
- Finely chop the remaining bacon and place in a large bowl. Trim the belly of pork, veal and chicken livers, then mince (grind) using the medium blade of a mince, or place is a food processor and chop roughly. Add to the bowl.
- Spoon the white wine and brandy over the meat. Add the herbs, garlic and seasoning, then mix well. Transfer the mixture to the tin or dish, pressing down lightly. Fold the overhanging bacon over the top of the filling, then cover with a piece of foil.
- Place the pate in the slow cooker, then pour enough very hot water around it to come nearly to the top. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. To test whether the pate is cooked, push a thin skewer into the centre and press lightly around the edges of the hole; the; liquid should be clear, not cloudy of pink
- Carefully remove the pate from the slow cooker and leave to cool on a wine rack. Cover and chill for several hours, then unmould and keep covered until ready to serve. (if you like, the pate can be pressed before chilling.)
After cooling the cooked pate you may “press” it to give it a slightly firmer texture and to make it easier to slice. Cover the late with greaseproof (waxed) paper or clear film (plastic wrap). Top with a board that fits exactly inside the tin (pan) and place several weights or cans on the board. (Alternatively, use bags of rice or lentils, which can be moulded to fit into the top of the tin.) leave until completely cool, then chill overnight (still weighted if you want a really firm texture).
Making mousseline pate
A mousseline pate has a smooth creamy texture. Allow plenty of time to prepare it between you will need to chill the mixture between each stage. Mousseline pates are extremely rich, so serve thinly sliced with bread or salad.
15g/ 1/2oz/1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
15ml/1 tbsp brandy or sherry
225g/8oz skinless chicken breast portion
15ml/1 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
1 eggs, separated
300ml/ ½ pint/1 ¼ cups double (heavy) cream salt and ground white pepper
- Lightly oil and line a 450g/1 lb loaf or terrine tin (pan), or a 900gml/1 ½ pint/3 ¾ cup baking dish, with baking parchment, melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallot and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Turn off the heat, then stir in the brandy or sherry. Place the mixture in a bowl and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, roughly chop the chicken breast portion and livers, then place in a food processor and puree for about 3m seconds. Add the shallot mixture and breadcrumbs to the chicken and process until very smooth. Return the mixture to the bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place an upturned saucer or metal pastry cutter in the bottom of the ceramic cooking pot. Pour in about 2.5cm/1 in of very hot water, then turn the slow cooker to high.
- Set the bowl of chicken puree over a larger bowl filled with crushed ice and water. Lightly whisk the egg white with a fork until frothy and beat into the puree, a little at a time. Beat in the egg yolk.
- Gradually add the cream, mixing well between each addition. Season with salt and white pepper, then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Cover with clear film (plastic wrap) or foil.
- Place the tin or terrine in the slow cooker, then pour enough hot water around to come nearly to the top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until firm.
- Carefully remove the pate from the slow cooker and leave to cool on a wine rack. Chill well before and serving.
Making a studded terrine
Attractive terrine can be made using the mousseline mixture and studding it with vegetable or layering it with other meats, such as strips of chicken or ham.
75g/3oz fine asparagus stalks
75g/3oz green beans, topped and tailed
115g/4oz carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick strips
½ quantity mousseline pate mixture
- Lightly oil and line a 450g/1lb loaf tin or terrine, or a 900ml/1 ½ pint/3 ¾ cup baking dish, with baking parchment. Cook the vegetables, one type at a time, in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, plunge into cold water, then drain again.
- Spread a layer of the mixture in the bottom of the tin. Arrange the asparagus lengthways, with gaps between each, then cover with a thin layer of the pate.
- Repeat the layers using beans and carrots and finishing with the remaining pate mixture. Spoon the top. Cover with clear film (plastic wrap) or foil and cook in the same way as the chicken mousseline for 2 ½-3 ½ hours.