Boozy Beef (slow cooker)

Boozy beef - a pot full of yum.

Ladies and Gents I present to you a simple recipe that does NOT contain turkey!

 Yayyyyy!

This recipe started its life as Boeuf à la Flamande or Flemish beef, known in this particular household as Beef in Beer.

I got the recipe from a book called The Rustic Table and I adapted it for use in my trusty slow cooker – because why not? It does use a frying pan at the very beginning, but not for long and you can skip that step if you really want.

It’s incredibly simple and my meal of choice for small dinner parties, especially during winter.  A good dollop of this, served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, makes it much easier to brave the cold.

It’s just as good in the Australian summer – because beer.

Now beer is not a staple in this household, but The Boy went to great lengths to find just the right one for this dish. I actually can’t tell you which one he ended up getting, but it worked…

That’s not particularly helpful is it? Go with something dark, but not black, maybe – and this is a stab in the dark – something Belgian, and you should be fine. Having said that though, I have made this with apple cider and it was delicious, so don’t stress.

You’ll also want to get a few other ingredients, like beef and stuff.

Sorry. I’ll behave.

Ahem.

This is a recipe that can quite easily be made gluten-free for any coeliacs on your guest list. Simply use cornflour or cornstarch in place of the plain flour and you’ll be golden.

[edit: I’ve been reminded that beer is not gluten-free. I’m an idiot. Please ensure you use a brew that doesn’t contain malts or other anti-coeliac nasties. Cider should be fine.]

You’ll need one and a half kilos of boneless chuck steak that has been trimmed of its fat and cut into 2 cm cubes. If you don’t like handling meat simply ask the butcher to do this for you. Then place a good cup or so of your flour of choice into a large plastic bag and season it well with salt and pepper. This mix is used to coat your beef cubes. The flour will help to thicken your sauce once the liquid is added, so don’t skip the coating stage.

Basically, take a few of your cubes, add them to the bag of flour, pinch the top closed and shake it until they are covered in flour.

Coat your beef in seasoned flour.

Coat your beef in seasoned flour.

Or you could do the whole lot at once if you are short of time or patience. Like I did. (see above)

The end result.

The end result.

In your frying pan, melt a little butter and add some oil – the oil is there to stop the butter from burning. Now you want to gently fry your cubes of beef just long enough to brown them all over, but not cook them through.

This part can be skipped, but the caramelization that happens here will add a depth of flavour to your stew that makes it well worth doing.

Shake off each piece of beef as you remove it from the bag and place it gently into the pan. Only brown off a few cubes at a time as this will help to keep the temperature of the pan stable and help the meat to brown rather than steam.

Brown your meat.

Brown your meat.

When they are suitably tanned, remove them to a piece of paper towel to drain and continue the process until all of the beef is done.

The browned beef, resting.

The browned beef, resting.

I admit to putting the drained beef into the slow cooker pretty much as each batch is done, but I’m an experienced cook who knows what they’re about. Once I’ve got an assembly line happening, it’s all systems go. You may need to take it slower. Nevertheless, when your beef is all seared and sealed, dump it into your slow cooker. Mine was a 5 litre or 4 quart size. Turn the slow cooker to LOW and put the lid on while you do the next steps.

Make sure your frying pan is off the heat, but keep it handy. You’ll be using it again soon.

The next step is cutting up quite a few onions; 5 to be precise. You’ll want nice medium-sized ones – something you can hold easily in the palm of your hand. Peel them and cut in half, then slice into wedges so that they look like crescent moons.

Wear sun glasses or swimming goggles if your eyes are sensitive.

Wear sun glasses or swimming goggles if your eyes are sensitive. Not joking.

Get your pan back on the heat and, when it is warm enough, add your onions, stirring gently for five minutes or so. You want them to be just starting to soften and browning on the edges.

These are just starting to brown on the cut surfaces.

These are just starting to brown on the cut surfaces.

Using a slotted spoon remove them to the slow cooker too, leaving the juices in the pan. Place the lid back on the slow cooker and the pan back on the heat.

Add the herbs to the frying pan, along with some brown sugar, a touch of red wine vinegar and about 2 cups of beer. Stir, scraping the bottom of the frying pan to deglaze it.

You want to get all the crispy bits left from the browning process as they will add even more flavour to your stew.

Bring the liquid to a simmer.

It will smell amazing.

It will smell amazing.

Turn off the heat. Remove the lid from your slow cooker and pour the entire contents of the pan into it.

Your work here is done.

Your work here is done.

Place the lid back on and turn the dial to HIGH and cook for 3-4 hours, or leave it on LOW and cook for 4-6 hours. Do all your washing up and walk away until you need to prepare your side dishes.

The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Boozy beef - a pot full of yum.

Boozy beef – a pot full of yum.

Remove the Bay leaves and serve over mashed potatoes or with a creamy polenta. Some steamed asparagus spears or Bok Choy will provide an ideal splash of green.

This will keep quite nicely in the refrigerator for up to 5 days once cooked.

Boozy Beef (slow cooker)

  • Servings: 6 -8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

1.5 kg boneless chuck or shoulder roast, well-trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Plain flour (or corn flour if gluten intolerant)

¼ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup olive oil

5 medium onions, cut into thick wedges

3 garlic cloves, sliced (or 3 teaspoons garlic from a jar)

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp dried thyme

2 tbsps brown sugar

2 tbsps red wine vinegar

2 cups Belgian ale or dark beer (or coeliac friendly cider)

Method

Place the flour into a large plastic bag and season well with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the flour a few cubes at a time and toss to coat well.  Remove from the bag, shaking off the excess flour.

In a heavy-based, fairly deep frying-pan, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium-heat.

Brown the beef cubes a few at a time to avoid crowding, turning to colour them on all sides. Each batch will take about 5 mins. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon to drain off excess fat on paper towel.

Remove the pan from the heat and place the beef into a large (3-5 litre) slow cooker set to LOW.

Place the pan back on the heat and add the onions, tossing until they are beginning to soften and brown on the edges. This will take around 5 minutes, add more butter or oil if necessary.

Add the onions to the beef in the slow cooker.

To the frying pan add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, brown sugar, beer and vinegar. Bring to a simmer while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

Once it has started to simmer, remove from the heat and pour it over the onions and beef in the slow cooker.

Replace the lid and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or leave it on LOW and cook for 4-6 hours.

Sauce will thicken in the pot.

Remove bay leaves just prior to serving. Spoon over mashed potatoes or polenta for a simple, filling meal.

Keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 5 days once cooked.

 

 

 

 

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Three can Curry in a Hurry

If only I ate a plant-based, whole-foods diet.

This is one of those dishes that you can throw together in a very small amount of time (about 20 minutes) and with a minimum of effort.

It relies on you having certain store cupboard ingredients and basic vegetable supplies to hand, but everything – and I mean everything – is completely flexible. All up it costs about $5 AUD to make.

The reason I call this a three can curry is because I use a tin of coconut cream, a tin of kidney beans and a tin of chickpeas in my version of it. You can use whatever beans you like: black beans; borlotti beans; cannellini beans, etc.

Given how quickly the first part goes, I would recommend doing a mise en place (oo er, fancy!) and having your base vegetables diced before you begin.

Also this recipe calls for the use of a curry paste. I tend to have a few of these in my pantry at any given time.

These were in my pantry at the time of writing...

These were in my pantry at the time of writing…

They cost about $2-$3 at Aldi and may cost a little more at other supermarkets. You don’t have to use the whole jar all at once, and they keep quite well in the refrigerator once opened.

Use whichever flavour profile suits your tastes – or experiment to determine exactly what your tastes are. Also, if you want to make your own curry paste, then go right ahead.

I’m not into a raging hot curry, but The Boy is. So, if I were making this just for him, I might use a Thai Green Curry paste or perhaps a Madras curry instead. The pictures you will see here use a Tikka Masala Paste. This is a sweet curry, it smells divine and has no heat to it – making it ideal if small children will be at your table.

Sorry it's blurry, I was rushing.

Sorry it’s blurry, I was rushing.

Now – and vegetarians look away – if you wish to add meat to this dish, feel free. I find that the beans suffice and the lack of meat is not actually something you think about. However, if you have a family member who requires meat to make a meal, you could easily add some diced bacon and sauté before adding the curry paste, or some diced rotisserie chicken just before serving.

After the liquid is added you are simply looking to heat things through and further soften the vegetables- you aren’t actively trying to ‘cook’ anything.

So, place a Dutch oven, casserole dish or a large saucepan over a low flame and heat about a tablespoon of butter with a splash of oil. The oil will stop the butter from burning. (Or you can just use all oil.)

Then add a teaspoon of crushed garlic (if you like it) and a diced onion.

Diced onion.

Diced onion.

Sauté until the onion is translucent, then add some diced celery, stirring continually. I used two largish stalks.

Celery for crunch.

Celery for crunch.

Add your carrots and go find your curry paste. We’ll wait.

Add carrots.

Add carrots.

You only want a tablespoon or two of the curry paste. It’s up to you how much you use – the flavour will get stronger with each spoonful.

Add it to the pan and allow it to fry gently for a few minutes. This will give you time to open a can of coconut cream.

Fry off your paste.

Fry off your paste.

As the heat works on the paste the aroma of the spices will be released. Be warned that, if you have chosen something that is very hot or full of chilli, you will probably start to cough uncontrollably if you breathe in over the pan…

Mix through.

Mix the paste through the vegetables, breaking up any lumps.

Mix the paste through the vegetables, breaking up any lumps.

Now add your coconut cream. I find it separates in the tin and add only the solid portion at first, reserving the liquid for if I find the sauce becomes too thick or is insufficient.

Spoon the solids into your pan.

Spoon the solids into your pan.

Don’t fret, the solid part will melt down to a thick liquid quite quickly.  As an aside, if you can’t find coconut cream (or are allergic) use a tin of evaporated milk instead.

It looks improbable, doesn't it?

It looks improbable, doesn’t it?

Once that is melted nicely and simmering gently, drain and add your beans.  I used kidney beans…

Looking good

Looking good.

…and chick peas.

Nearly done.

Nearly done.

Stir it all together and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.  This will give you time to set the table. It will also enable you to reheat any leftover/planned-over rice you may have in the refrigerator or to cook a sachet or two of microwave rice.

If you don’t have/want rice you could always cut a few potatoes into small dice and add them to your simmering pan. The dish will then be done when your potatoes are cooked.

I like to make my meals as colourful as I can – this ensures maximum flavour and nutrition. Think traffic lights: Red, yellow and green. This dish looks very yellow at this point, so I’ll add a diced red capsicum. This adds vibrant colour as well as crisp fruitiness.

A red capsicum or bell pepper.

A red capsicum or bell pepper.

And for greenery I have added kale, spinach or broccoli; like so.

Green for go..

Green for go..

I’ve also just added some frozen peas straight from the freezer.

Use what you have.

Use what you have.

When the peas are cooked, so is the dish.

Basically you can add whatever you have to hand. This meal is a great way to clean out the refrigerator before the grocery shopping has been done.

Serve over rice if you wish. However, be aware that this is very filling (beans, donchaknow) and will easily feed 6 people of normal appetite. So, I suggest you under-serve and allow seconds to avoid arguments with small people.

Three can Curry in a Hurry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

oil

1 clove garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp jarred garlic)

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 tablespoons curry paste

1 x 400 g tin coconut cream or evaporated milk

1 x 400 g tin kidney beans

1 x 400 g tin chick peas

Other vegetables to taste: frozen corn, frozen peas, diced peppers or capsicum, kale, cavolo nero, broccoli, sliced cabbage, diced potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc…

Rice to serve.

Method

Place a Dutch Oven, casserole dish or large saucepan over gentle heat and add oil.

Add onion and garlic, frying gently until onion is translucent.

Add celery and carrot, frying gently until celery softens.

Add a tablespoon (or to taste) of the curry paste to your pan and allow to fry for several minutes. The heat will start to release the aromas of the spices in the paste. Mix the contents of the pot together, breaking up any lumps.

Add the coconut cream or evaporated milk. If the cream has separated in the can, just add the solid part using a spoon but keep the liquid in reserve should you want more sauce later.

Mix well.

Add the kidney beans. Stir well.

Add the chick peas. Stir well.

Allow the curry to come to a simmer and leave for 5 minutes.

Add any fresh vegetables you wish and cook through.

Serve over rice.

Variations:

  • Add several diced rashers of bacon and fry off a little before adding the curry paste.
  • Add a cup of diced, cooked chicken after the chick peas. (or any other cooked meat.)
  • Instead of serving over rice, add 2-3 potatoes diced small after the chick peas. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Add water if necessary to ensure the potatoes are fully immersed.
  • Serve over cous cous instead of rice.

Budget decadence.

I’m sorry.

I didn’t do what I said I would. I got a lot done today, but unfortunately none of it had to do with this blog.

I wanted to though!  I promise. Really truly.

I was waylaid by completing my tax return. This should be relatively straight forward. It never is though. I invested my lump sum from when I was invalided into a managed trust. The tax statements/reports from there never arrive until September and contain all sorts of eldritch entries that require me to search through and experiment with various entry points on etax until they match the place they are supposed to go. The fact that they now list the places they go is massive improvement from a few years ago, when they did not.

This confusion and frustration was compounded by the Accidental Cat appearing at 15 minute intervals and yowling at me (at volume) to open a door…

I ended up locking her behind another one entirely.

This is new...

This is new…

However, t’is done. Also, since I cashed out the trust to put toward the house deposit, I won’t have these issues again. Happy dance, my place, now.

I did, however, get the celebration breakfast done.

I took these frozen croissants,2015-09-06 11.48.04

cut them in half and filled them with pieces of this small wheel of brie.2015-09-06 11.53.35

then heated them until the croissants were warmed through and smelled beautifully buttery and the cheese was all melty and runny.

Budget decadence.

Budget decadence.

We have a home loan and soon will start to build. Another happy dance.

On the blog front, I’m guessing I should do a post on how to do these croissants for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day, or any special occasion, breakfasts …coming soon.

Also planned – a few posts on easy home-made cleaning solutions.

Tonight I’m abdicating catering responsibilities and waiting to see what The Boy serves me.

Because I can.

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Hello my lovelies.

I’m sorry I wasn’t on yesterday.

I went off to our plot at the Ballarat Community Garden and didn’t get back for 3 and a bit hours.

Before

Before

After all that weeding and mulching I was ever so tired and typing and internetting wasn’t really something I felt up to.

After.

After.

Thankfully, I had put a corned beef on to cook in the slow cooker before I left, so there really was nothing left to do for dinner.

That is, beyond mashing some spuds and cooking the Pak Choi I had just plucked from the aforementioned plot.

I had been followed home by a massive rainstorm, so it was doubly nice to tuck in to my meal knowing that (a) I had missed a drenching and (b) I didn’t have to do anything else that evening.

Dinner.

Sunday Dinner.

Today, I finally finished the shopping and hit the green grocery – so I’ll be publishing lists tomorrow. I also managed to make some Lemon Butter with my friend Althea’s eggs, and my friend Stephen’s lemons.

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Then I started an experiment. There is a recipe for ginger beer in my mother’s collection and I have been meaning to try it for some time. This is that time. I’ll tell you in a few days if I was successful, but this is how it looks right now.

Ginger beer?

Ginger beer?

Tonight we shopped the fridge and I had vegetarian bean curry and the boy had honey teriyaki chicken; both over rice.

Tomorrow we will be starting the day with a celebratory breakfast. I have some brie in the refrigerator and some croissants in the freezer. These two shall be combined.

🙂

We have finance, Peeps. Life is good.

 

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Howdy do.

Today was the start of spring and Ballarat turned on the sunshine. The Accidental Cat discovered the OUTSIDE for the first time under the watchful eyes of the other two clowder members.

The Boy headed off to work and I baked chocolate chip biscuits.

The biscuit barrel is full.

The biscuit barrel is full.

Then I ran out of energy and sat down for quite a while. Tonight we will “shop the fridge” for our dinner, choosing from the leftovers that are there. We have Chilli Mac, Thai green curry and Lentil and barley casserole – so we’re not exactly slumming it!

I suspect I’ll go the macaroni, just quietly.

Speak soon.

Corned Beef (Silverside)

The final result.

Corned Beef is one of those dishes that seems to have become a regular on my family meal rota – which is strange.

When I was a child I hated the stuff with a vengeance. Although I could be persuaded to eat it if, and only if, my mother was calling it Cane Cutter’s Ham.

I don’t know why.

I then lived alone for several decades and only attempted to cook it twice during that period. Both times were for visits by my step-father and, while he said it was great, I thought it was less than ordinary on both occasions.

I’ve got better at it in this stage of my life. Firstly, I’ve stopped cooking the vegetables that accompany it in the same pot as the meat. This means that there is a different flavour for everything on the plate, instead of a meal-wide sameness that resembles the next step to gastronomic zombieville.

Roasted veg.

Roasted veg.

I’ve also started adding a few more flavourings to the pot, some of which elevate the dish to heavenly status.

I kiddest thou not.

The best part is that I inevitably have enough leftover to make several more meals from the same piece of meat: fritters and almost fried rice spring to mind, it’s also a nifty addition to pasta bakes or on lunch box sandwiches.

One and a half kilos of meal options.

One and a half kilos of meal options.

I inevitably cook mine in a slow cooker but it can, of course, be cooked on the stove for a much shorter time. I like being able to put it on to cook of a morning and then walking away for the rest of the day until I’m ready to serve it up.

Go with your muse on this one.

So, to cook a piece of corned beef, you first need to find a pot big enough to put it in. Make sure it’s one that will take the beef, any flavourings you may use and enough water to cover the lot of it. In the photograph, I’m using a 3 litre slow cooker that has a tall, narrow crock.

First find a roomy pot.

First find a roomy pot.

I know it looks kind of yucky. This one was vacuum packed and had a fair amount of jelly around it. Don’t wash it off, just put the whole lot into your pot.

Now, generally, I would put the flavourings in first and then add the meat, But I didn’t do that for the pictures. I’m sorry if it confuses anyone. Also, none of the vegetables I’m about to add to the pot are destined to be eaten. They’re simply there to add flavour to the meat.

Got it? Good.

To the pot I add a stick of celery, cut into largish bits.

Celery.

Celery.

A carrot treated similarly.

Carrot.

Carrot.

Then an onion. All of these may be kept whole if you have the room in your pot.

Onions.

Onions.

Now add 6 peppercorns or 6 whole cloves. If you’re keen, you can add both. My mother would stud the onion with the cloves, but I don’t have the dexterity for that.

I also add some fennel seeds and a star anise.

A touch of spice.

A touch of spice.

Then a tablespoon or so (a glug) of apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar.

And then the piéce de resistance!  An orange.

Yes, really. A chef former neighbour gave me this tip a year or so ago and I kiss her feet for it. (Thanks Kath!)

An orange. OMG.

An orange. OMG.

This will add a certain something that will lift your corned beef into the stratosphere of flavour. Trust me on this.

Now pop in a Bay Leaf and cover with cold water.

This is why I usually put the oranges in before the beef...

This is why I usually put the oranges in before the beef…

Put the lid on and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. Your kitchen will start to smell amazing.  I promise.

The final result.

The final result.

When it is done, simply remove from the pot, slice and serve. As you can see, the vegetables don’t look like you’d really want them on your plate…

Slice and serve.

Slice and serve.

Traditionally, Corned Beef is served with a white or mustard sauce. However, the other person in this household doesn’t really like sauces…

The meat does tend to dry out a little once sliced, so I simply spoon a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid over the meat on the plate. Not enough to drown it, mind!

It keeps the meat moist and gives a further hit of flavour.

Sunday night feast?

Sunday night feast?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Corned Beef

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 kg silverside/corned beef (this recipe will also work for larger cuts)

1 large onion, chopped

1 large stick of celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 medium to large orange, quartered

6 whole cloves (these may be inserted into the onion if you wish); or

6 peppercorns – or both

1 star anise

½ tsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 bay leaf

Method

Add all the ingredients to a pot large enough to hold the meat and flavourings.

Cover with cold water.

Bring slowly to the boil and simmer with the lid on until the meat is tender. (Approx. 2 hours for a 1 kg cut on the stove top)

If using a slow cooker set on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.

When cooked to your preference, remove from water, slice and serve.

May be served with a mustard sauce or with some of the pot juices spooned over the meat.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Variations:

This recipe will work for any pickled or salted cut of meat.

 

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Osso Buco

I have spent the vast majority of the day tucked up in my bed with a cat or two.

However, I did emerge long enough to make dinner.

The Boy had the stated objective of “making Osso Buco in the bomb” – by this he meant our pressure cooker. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked on his ‘puter and my tummy got rumbling; so I did it.

Thankfully his distraction lasted long enough that I was able to cook it, realise it needed more time, and do it over again. Which also gave me time to stir up a pot of polenta.

?????????????

Polenta

And a glorious dinner was had.

Polenta

Polenta

Now I intend to head back to bed and continue working my way through the exhaustive list of home remedies that has generously been flowing in over the last few days.

Night All.

Cough, sniffle.