If I say “slow-cooker”, it most likely conjures up images of deliciously hearty stews, curries or soups, in other words, winter fare. But slow-cookers can be used for so much more. A friend and I were discussing how she uses her slow-cooker the other day and it reminded me of one of my favourite recipes. I recently discovered that my beautiful Russell Hobbs slow-cooker has a crack in it and I was sharing my distress as winter is just around the corner and won’t be the same without this wonderful piece of equipment.
This is one of those “any-time” recipes, meaning it’s perfect for a summer day when you know you’re going to be out and about all day and want to come home to something delicious yet easy to throw together; or a great way to feed the masses on an Autum or Winter evening when the gang are together watching the game on TV.
The secret to the perfect slow-cooked meal, in my experience, is to brown the meat and soften the onions prior to adding them to the slow-cooker. This does add a little time to the preparation, but the browning/sealing/caramelisation of the meat is where a lot of the flavour comes from. This recipe makes 12 – 14 servings, but the cooked meat can either be frozen for later use (freeze the meat and sauce separately) or reduce the quantities to suit your needs.
1.5 kg blade, gravy or flank steak
¼ cup flour to coat
1 can/pot tomato paste, about 130 g
½ cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp balsamic or wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp molasses or 2 tsp dark soy sauce (I prefer the soy sauce)
about 1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
fresh bread rolls
thinly sliced red onions
gherkins or pickled cucumber slices
- Turn the slow-cooker on to HIGH and coat with non-stick spray. Put the flour in a large plastic bag. Pat the meat dry and shake in the bag of flour to coat. Discard the remaining flour and brown the steak size meat portions in a little oil in a heavy pan and fry over a high heat to brown.
- Put the browned meat in the slow-cooker with ½ cup hot water. Put on the lid and cook on HIGH for 1 hour.
- In the meantime, measure the sauce ingredients into a small bowl and set aside. (The molasses gives a brown colour as well as extra sweetness to the sauce so it depends how sweet you like your meal. If you opt for soy sauce, reduce the salt in the sauce to a ½ tsp. Taste the sauce and add the remaining salt only if necessary.)
- After an hour, turn the heat down to LOW, then cook for 5 – 6 hours more (reduce this time accordingly if you’ve used less meat), until the meat is so well cooked that it can be easily shredded with two forks. Tip the cooking liquid out of the slow-cooker and set aside. Put the shredded meat back into the slow-cooker with as much of the sauce as you need to give the meat a good flavour. If you are pre-preparing this dish, refrigerate the beef, sauce and reserved cooking liquid separately until needed.
- If you’ve refrigerated the cooked meat, etc., about two hours before serving, reheat the beef and sauce in the slow cooker on HIGH. When hot enough, taste, add extra sauce if necessary and more of the cooking liquid if you like. Turn to LOW or KEEP WARM, until required.
- To serve, spoon the hot meat into a warmed, split bun, with slices of red onion and gherkins.