Inexpensive cuts like beef chuck simmered for hours in the slow cooker with a few other ingredients results in a luscious Italian ragu to serve over pasta or polenta – the ultimate winter warmer.
Serves: 6 Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 360 minutes
1¼ kg piece beef chuck or beef bolar blade
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
1½ cups beef stock
400 g can cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small char-grilled capsicums, thinly sliced (optional)
½ cup small fresh basil leaves
Pasta and grated parmesan, to serve
1. Cut beef into four or five large pieces. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Heat a large frypan over a medium-high heat. Brown the pieces of beef well on all sides. Remove and place in slow cooker bowl.
2. Reduce heat, add a little oil to the frypan and onion and garlic. Cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir to scrape up residue from the base of the pan and ensure the onion is coated with the flour. Gradually pour in the stock and stir until the mixture boils. Pour over the beef in slow cooker dish. Add the tomatoes and thyme and a small pinch of sugar.
3. Cover the slow cooker with its lid, cook on low setting for 6-8 hours and then 1 hour on high setting (if you have time). Alternatively, cook on the high setting for 4-5 hours. To serve, shred the beef with two forks. Stir in the roasted capsicum and basil leaves. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan.
* If you don’t have time to brown the meat or sauté the onion you can try this tip. Place the beef directly into the slow cooker, give the onions a minute in the microwave to soften and then into the slow cooker. Add a spoonful each of soy sauce and tomato paste with the stock to add depth of flavour and lift the colour.
* Little or no stirring is needed when using the Low setting, stir the beef occasionally when using the high setting gives good flavour distribution.
* Keep the lid on during cooking to maintain the temperature.
* If you have time turn the slow cooker to high for the last hour to intensify the flavour and thicken the sauce a little.
What’s your favourite slow cooker recipe?