No, this is not a Cole Porter musical - it's a fabulous and versatile winter dish! (But I bet you've already started to hum some show tunes by now ....)
Slow cooking is a forgiving and sensible way of cooking, which adds bucket-loads of flavour to ordinary ingredients, and is a great chance to use up lots of vegetables in your fridge.
I needed to use up some beans, mushrooms, baby tomatoes and carrots, and thought I'd make a hearty beef stew to enjoy with friends this wintry long weekend.
Here's what went in to the slow cooker:
1. Before I started on my vegetables, I browned about a kilo of diced gravy beef, which I'd tossed in some plain flour and salt and pepper. Hearing the beef sizzle and smelling it cook made me sure I was cooking up a nice meal!
2. Once the meat was browed (I did it in two batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan), I placed the meat in to the slow cooker, and then poured in about a third of a jar of passata / tomato sauce (which I also needed to use up) and topped it up with some water.
3. Next were the vegetables. I peeled and diced three medium carrots. I washed and sliced a punnet of button mushrooms. I also "topped and tailed" a handful of green beens. They all went in to the pot!
4. I also had a lovely punnet of heirloom baby tomatoes on the vine that I would normally roast and put in a salad or couscous, but I needed to uses these too, so I sliced them and added them for extra tomatoey flavour!
5. For more seasoning, I added half a pack of french onion soup mix, which is a really easy was of adding extra flavour, much like using stock.
6. Because I also had it in the fridge, I stirred in a nice big bunch of freshly chopped continental parsley as well.
7. I actually cooked the stew for ages because I had plenty of time over the long weekend, and the meat was beautifully tender by the end of it. Normally 8 hours on low, or 6 hours on high is about right, but if you have more time, it just gets better with extra cooking, as long as the cooker is not running dry.
8. To thicken up the stew towards the end of the cooking, I turned the cooker on high, and had the lid ajar. I also mixed a few teaspoons of corn flour in a teacup with some cold water to form a paste and then stirred this in too to help thicken the gravy.
I served the "Anything Goes!" beef stew with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed and peppered shredded cabbage, and it was a warm, wintry hit!
Happy cooking Cookers!!!
x x x