You can’t beat a meal cooked up in a Slow Cooker – all of the flavours, nutrients and textures and simmering away – while you get on with your day. As well as being the easiest thing to prepare, the taste sensation would have others believe you had slaved at the stove for hours.
Slow Cooking is not a new thing! It was the ‘original’ way to cook. Long before pots and pans were forged, our simple but seriously resourceful ancestors would wrap their meat in leaves (probably were herbs derived from) and gently smoke or hang their meat over low heat for hours to tenderise it.
Right up until the WWII food was always cooked slowly in the oven (sometimes overnight) – but with the introduction of gas and then electric ovens, food could be cooked faster and we have learned to use spices and sauces to soften our meat. But lets be honest, it’s not the same, not as tender and the flavours are sometimes lost with the sauces we produce.
So very quickly skipping the microwave oven, for which I have little time for and bang up to date with Mrs Domestic Goddess times – we are re-installing Aga’s, ranges and the Slow Cooker is becoming the latest appliance that we allow the work surface to clutter (move over bread maker).
I have a Crockpot Slow Cooker, 3 litres in size – I used to have a 5 litre, but given it was a bit too big for me at the time, I didn’t use it much. Now I fill my 3 litre to the brim and have smiley, lickedy lip faces at the table at tea time.
So what is cooking in HoniesKitchen today?
I bought meat for each and very day last week to use in my slow cooker and the last of this was almost a kg of ‘chuck’ beef chopped ready to stew.
No decent slow-cooked meal is complete without veggies and I choose a good selection to throw in and make up the taste sensation.
Remember that vegetables need to go to the bottom and sides of a slow cooker, whereas the meat can rest on top of the vegetables and need not be covered in the fluid. The sides and bottom of the pot are the hottest place for vegetables to be.
You shouldn’t need more than 300 – 350 ml of fluid in your slow cooker, but if using grains and pulses (like this recipe) you may need to add a splash of liquid (of your choice) when turning the heat down to simmer for the remaining hours.
This may all sound a bit complicated, but I promise you I used only one pan, a jug for measuring, a chopping board and a knife, other than the slow cooker and it really only takes about 15-20 mins preparation. After that you only have to turn the heat down, give it a stir and let it simmer.
500g – 1kg (depending on family size) of stewing steak
Blade or chuck is lovely – leg or neck for ‘long’ periods of slow cooking (5+ hours) so suitable for this recipe.
- 1 large onion
- 4 carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 large parsnip
- 1 leek
- 1 green pepper
- 1 large sweet potato
- 350 ml of beef stock
- a generous splash of red wine
- 1 cardamom pod (bruised)
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp rainbow pepper (black/white/green/brazil peppercorns, coriander seed, allspice)
- 2 cloves garlic
The fillers: **
As well as the sweet potato, good replacements for ordinary potatoes and great Super Foods are:
A good handful each (rinsed thoroughly)
- Quinoa (the Queen of ‘super food’ proteins)
- Pearl barley
- Red lentils
Chop all of the vegetables except for the sweet potato (slice these).
Using a large sauté pan or frying pan, heat some oil and add chopped onions, peppers, celery and leeks and stir in pan for 2 minutes.
Add chopped carrots, parsnip and continue to stir, turing all of the vegetables till they soften.
Add chopped garlic and the spices and continue to stir for a few minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker spreading evenly across the bottom – turn the heat to ‘high’.
Add a little more oil to the sauté pan and allow it to come to medium heat, then carefully placing the diced beef into the sauté pan, turn the pieces until they are browned.
Transfer the beef onto the vegetables in the centre of the slow cooker, allowing space at the sides for the sweet potato.
Put the beef stock into the sauté pan and add sweet potato to soften slightly.
Add to the pan the quinoa, pearl barley and red lentils. Allow the stock to come to the boil and leave for a few minutes more.
Transfer the potatoes to the sides of the slow cooker and pour the remaining liquid and other ingredients over the meat (use a spoon to make sure you have all of the quinoa, barley and lentils).
Leave the slow cooker on high for 2 hours.
On returning to the pot, stir the ingredients, tuning the slow cooker down to low for the remaining time (at least 3 hours for really tender meat).***
You may want to add a splash of liquid to the pot at this time as the quinoa, barley and lentils will have fluffed up and soaked a lot of the liquid. Everything is cooked at this point, the rest is about mingling of flavours and tenderising, a little bit more liquid will help with this.
I guarantee that while you are doing other Domestic Goddess chores about your house (or sitting blogging about it and other stuff like me – I’m having a break, OK – the washing is done!) that your house will be filled with lovely aromas and you are very unlikely to skip lunch.
When you are ready to serve your ‘mildly’ spicy beef casserole then turn the heat down to ‘keep warm’ or off ……… and enjoy!
**I didn’t add ordinary potatoes to this recipe as there is more than enough to replace this in the sweet potato and the pulses/grains (lentils, barley, quinoa). But you can serve this with big wedges of your favourite bread and butter if you like.
*** If you are not at home to turn down the heat from ‘high’ to ‘low’ after a couple of hours – allow it to remain high for as long as you can (before going out to work or elsewhere) and compensate by cooking for 2 hours extra on low for every hour on high missed. So … 1 hour on high, needs at least 6 hours on low / 1/2 hour on high needs at least 7 hours on low. I cooked for 2 hours on high and 4 on low (leaving on warm further tenderising for later servings).
Search ‘Slow Cooked Food’ in HoniesKitchen for more tasty Slow cooker recipes like Slow Cooked Lamb Pasanda