Saturday, 1 November 2014

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

When Autumn arrives and temperatures begin to drop, I like to eat foods that are a bit heartier and a bit more filling. This is when I turn to cooking stews, and one of my favourites this time of year is a beef stew.

Like many, I want to get cheaper cuts of beef to go into a beef stew. That means cuts which need to cook for low and slow in order to break down the muscle fibers which make it tough. What I don't want is to be spending 4 hours making a stew when I only have 2 hours in which to get a meal on the table.

This is where a slow-cooker becomes very handy.
Skirt steak comes from the plate cut

My favourite beef to use for making stews is the skirt steak which comes from a cut called the plate. While flavoursome and low in fat it does have very long muscle fiber strands which make it tough to eat if it isn't sliced across the grain.Sometimes you will find a touch whitish membrane covering one side of the skirt steak. Have your butcher remove it, or trim it off yourself before trying to cut up the meat.

Skirt steak is also popular for making beef fajitas and Asian stir-fries.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew
Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6 - 8 hours

Ingredients list:
1 pound beef skirt, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into cubes
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tins water

Place all of the ingredients into a slow-cooker. Turn the device onto low heat and leave to cook for 6 - 8 hours. I usually put everything into the pot the night before, then turn it on before leaving the house in the morning.

Before serving, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve with bread or over boiled potatoes. 

Jut about any vegetable can be used for this stew. I contemplating adding some chopped cavolo nero, peas and sweetcorn, or a tin of chopped tomatoes, and may just try one of two of these combinations in my next stew.

You will notice that I don't add potatoes to my beef stew. This is because I have found that they break down too much from the longer cooking time. I much prefer cooking them up separately for this reason.

If you don't have a slow-cooker, place all of the ingredients into a covered oven proof stewing pot, like the SKK stew pot I use, and cook at a  low temperature (gas mark 2 /300f/150c) for 3 - 4 hours.