Sunday, August 18, 2013

Slow-cooked Beef

Doesn't look very appetising, does it? One of those cheap, value beef roasts, the kind with reformed extruded fat on top. They are far cheaper than a decent piece of beef, but if you've ever tried roasting one, it turns out tough and flavourless. That's because it isn't a roasting cut of beef!

This is a slow-cooking cut of beef. After 8 hours in an electric slow-cooker with a few condiments, it will be soft, moist and flavourful. Trust me on this.

Your slow cooker and your beef joint need to be a compatible size - obviously a large joint won't fit in a small slow-cooker, but similarly a small joint that looks lost in a large slow-cooker won't turn out well either. Thats why I have two slow-cookers - a small ancient second-hand original Tower one for small joints, and a more modern large oval one that will take a whole chicken, or a couple of turkey legs.

The first step is to build an edible 'trivet' to stop your roast sticking to the bottom of the slow cooker - just a small onion, sliced and spread out over the bottom, and maybe a couple of sprigs of herbs on top. Today the rosemary and the basil donated a few sprigs.

Now to prep the beef. Cut off the shrinkwrap and remove the string vest holding it all together. Peel off the extruded fat layer and discard. Pop the naked beef in to the cooker on top of the onion layer.

Season well with salt and pepper, maybe some dried herbs or spices, or some garlic cloves sliced and spread over the top. Whatever you fancy.

Finally, pour a small glass of liquid over the beef - maybe the end of a bottle of wine? The port or sherry thats been lurking in the cupboard since Xmas? Some beer? Or maybe some fruit juice or vinegar. Again, whatever you fancy.

Now pop on the lid and switch on the slow-cooker. Let it cook on high for the first hour, and then turn it down to low for the remaining 7 hours. If your slow-cooker is a modern one, it may even have an automatic mode that will switch down after an hour for you.

And whatever you do, DO NOT LIFT THE LID until the time is up - too much heat will escape and it will add hours to the cooking time!

Serve the tender meat with vegetables and potatoes, and the juices from the slow cooker to spoon over.