So, a few weeks ago I purchased a slow cooker. I’d never really thought of buying one before, and had no desire to own one. But someone at work was talking about theirs and how brilliant it is to come home in the evening to a tasty stew or casserole, ready when you walk in the door.
So, I weighed it up:
- Delicious hot food ready when I get home from work
- I love stews and casseroles
- It fits in with low carb lifestyle – easy way to eat meat
- It will add variety to my current diet during the week, which currently relies on speedy meals when I get in
- I’ll be able to cook tasty meals with cheaper cuts of meat
- I can freeze what I don’t eat straight away (or chuck it in the fridge for the next day)
- It’s a new challenge
- It might encourage me to be more organised about meals, therefore less likely to impulse buy bad food
- Will I worry all day that I’ve left a hot plate on in the flat and it will burn down?
- What if I’ve set it on in the morning, but end up not getting home till really late?
- I’ll never have time in the morning to get it going
- If I do have time, I’ll end up oh so hungry before lunchtime
- I’ll never be organised enough to be in on consecutive nights, one to buy meat, the next to eat it
- I don’t have room for it in the teeny tiny kitchen
So. The cons seemed to be mostly things I could overcome quite easily. So I bought one. Cheap, on amazon. I won’t bother giving you a linky thing there – I’m sure you can find one there for yourself if you want it.
But anyway.. I’ve not used the slow cooker too often, mainly because the con number 5 is very real. It’s relatively rare that I’m in my flat two nights in a row. And I’m never here at weekends. So, clearly I have to spend less time going out and more staying in and saving money eating tasty cheap stews and casseroles.
Yesterday evening I bought some stewing steak, from the local supermarket, ready diced.
And this morning I made a gingered beef stew in the slow cooker. It probably took me about 15 minutes before I went to work. OK, maybe 20 minutes tops, but really no longer. And I was still in work early.
Gingered beef stew
My slow cooker instructions tell me I need to turn the machine on to high for 20 minutes before I put the ingredients in. So, before I went in for my shower, I turned the cooker on to high and took the beef out of the fridge. I also assembled all the other ingredients. Then when I was dressed I chopped, stirred and threw the whole thing together.
440g diced stewing steak
1 onion, cut in chunks
a knob of butter
about 1TBsp flour
a big squidge of tomato puree
balsamic vinegar – a big splash, maybe about 1-2 TBsps
1 large tsp muscovado sugar
about 1″ fresh ginger, chopped finely
2 bay leaves
tin of chopped tomatoes
beef stock cube
- Splash some olive oil into a big frying pan, and once it’s hot add the beef to brown it
- Remove the beef from the pan and set aside
- Put the butter in the pan, with the onion, cut into large chunks. Reduce the heat to gently cook the onion (it should take 5-10 mins to get soft and translucent)
- Throw in the flour, and stir around, then add the all the other ingredients, except the tin of tomatoes.
- Add a good splash of water from the kettle, and stir well to create a thick sauce
- Now add the tin of tomatoes
- Now put the beef into the slow cooker, and then add the sauce on top
- Turn the heat down to slow, or whatever.
Go to work. Come home and eat with savoy cabbage. Or cauliflower. Or broccoli. Or I guess you could have potatoes or linguine if you wanted the carbs.
The great thing about this is that it can be dressed up with more flavours – garlic, herbs, chilli pepper – if you have time. But just as it is it’s a pretty tasty dish.