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!


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.


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
  • Print


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)


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.






Slow cooker beef with Asian flavours (from scratch)

Asian-flavoured slow-cooked beef

Okay, so some of you may have clicked over from here. You may find some repetition in this post, so bear with me. Please?

This little concoction is my answer to the “I don’t know what to cook, but I’ll probably be hungry later —and tired—, so this will do” situation.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Asian-flavoured slow-cooked beef

Asian-flavoured slow-cooked beef

This is something I can get into the slow cooker in minutes and serve a few hours later – filling my home with gorgeous smells in the intervening period.

I own several slow cookers but the one I use the most has got to be my smallest one. It’s a 1.5 litre or 1 quart sized appliance and it’s perfect for meals for two. All the photos in this post have been taken with this device.

Feel free to double or triple what I do here and then cook it in a larger slow-cooker. It will take longer than the few hours a small one would use to cook the smaller portion, but not much longer.

Start with half a kilo or a pound of chuck steak and cut into large cubes.

Cut into large cubes.

Cut into large cubes.

Add your spices to the meat on the cutting board. You can measure them carefully if you wish, I just tend to give each a good shake until I think the meat looks covered enough. I’ve had readers *demand* I give an actual measurement though, so start with a teaspoon of each and then decide if future versions need more or less. It’s completely up to you.

I used these spices:

This is a nice blend of flavours

This is a nice blend of flavours

I find ground cumin, ground coriander and ground ginger combine really well as an accompaniment to beef. It’s a combination that you’ll find often on these pages, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them. If you don’t like ginger, leave it out, it’s your meal after all.

On the other hand, if you are new to this cooking lark, give it a shot and see how you go. You never know, it may win you over.

I add a smattering of chilli flakes just to add a little heat without taking over the dish. I find it easier to control how much I dispense by shaking when I use flakes, chilli powder can be disastrous …

Spice your meat

Spice your meat

Now, I prepare some vegetables for the pot. It’s a very simple, very traditional combination of an onion, a carrot and a little celery.

Cut your onion into crescents.

Little crescent moons of onions

Little crescent moons of onions

Add to the base of the slow cooker.

Dice your carrots and celery and add them as well.

Add carrots and celery.

Add carrots and celery.

Again, you can use whatever combination you like. However, I find that these are three that I always have to hand and they form a very good base for most main meal dishes. It’s a mix that is often referred to as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of cooking, so let’s just go with the flow…

Now place your spiced meat into the pot, on top of the vegetables. Don’t stir yet!

I always keep these guys in my refrigerator, add a good teaspoonful of each to the pot.

Refrigerator staples.

Refrigerator staples.

Up the flavour with some fresh ginger and garlic.

Up the flavour with some fresh ginger and garlic.

Now add a good glug of the sauces you’d like to use.  On this occasion, I had these in my refrigerator door: Soy & Honey sauce, Hoi Sin and some sesame oil.

*A ‘glug’ may be translated as a tablespoon or so. You’re just adding flavours, not creating a cooking medium.

Choose your sauces

Choose your sauces

Add some glugs to the pot

Add a few glugs of whatever sauces you wish to the pot.

You may wish to use plain soy sauce, black bean, teriyaki, sweet chilli, oyster sauce, kecap manis…the list goes on. You don’t have to use a mix, you may use just one if you prefer (or if that is all you have).

Now stir.

Stir it all together.

Stir it all together.

As you can see from the picture above, the meat and other ingredients are only lightly coated by the sauces and spices.

Using a slow cooker is a very ‘wet’ method of cooking. As the ingredients release their own juices, they are captured via condensation on the lid and then drip down into the pot to further aid cooking. Think of it as your very own little Greenhouse Effect…

Place your pot on either low or high, depending on how quickly you wish to eat. This took my small slow cooker only 2.5 hours on low. If you are making a larger amount of this in a larger slow cooker, it will take longer – possibly 4 -6 hours on low.

Several hours later...

Several hours later…

As you can see, there is quite a bit of liquid in the bowl. This can be left as it is, or thickened with some cornflour. Instructions on how to do this can be found here.

I felt that I’d like a few more vegetables in this, so I stirred through a handful each of frozen peas and frozen corn and popped the lid back on the pot for 30 minutes while I steamed some jasmine rice.

And this is the final result:

The final result

The final dish served with rice.

If you wish for a more tender version (although this is fab!) follow the instructions here and leave it overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.