This is my ideal slow cooker dish. You do have a little bit of prepping in a pan to start with, but not much. I wouldn’t dream of just putting everything into the slow cooker – raw meat and veg, cold beer etc – switching it on, and hoping for the best, but I know some people do use their slow cookers like this. For me, it goes against every principle of cookery that I know. Yes, OK, you do have to spend 15 more minutes in the kitchen this way, and you’ll have an extra pan to wash up, but that old adage about ‘if something is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly’ springs to mind. By doing it properly – browning off the meat for colour and flavour and sweating your vegetables to bring out the sweetness, then bringing the alcohol to the boil first – you will be greatly rewarded in the eating.
Sorry if I’m ranting a little, but I speak to so many people (granted, busy mums mainly) who just want to sling everything into their slow cooker and return to it after a day’s work expecting a delicious meal. I get it, I do… and I’m not saying you won’t produce an edible dish doing it that way, just that I can guarantee you’ll have much better results with a little TLC thrown into the mix…
Braising a cheap cut of beef in beer like this creates a smoky, slightly bitter flavour. One that children – mine anyway – seem to really like. Using alcohol in cooking is a good way to introduce more complex flavours to kids. The booze is burned off anyway, so all you’re left with are the flavours, and beer has a great bittersweet depth that goes perfectly with beef. Eat with silky, creamy mash.
Serves: 4 adults
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 7 hours on low
Total time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
2 small onions, roughly diced
4 small carrots, roughly diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
775kg braising steak (or shin of beef)
1l beer (I used Black Sheep Ale)
250g mushrooms, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons of cornflour, mixed with a little cold water, to thicken.
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to garnish
- Sweat the onions, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary and oil over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Tip it all into the slow cooker.
- Turn up the heat in the pan, add a little more oil and fry off the beef. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the meat will steam. Do it in two batches if required.
- Once the meat is browned nicely all over, pour in the beer to deglaze and bring to the boil.
- Now transfer the stew to the slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, and braise for 7 hours on low.
- When you are 20 minutes away from wanting to eat, stir in cornflour and water, and add mushrooms. Let this cook for about 20 more minutes to allow the mushrooms to cook and the casserole to thicken.
- Serve with mash (Adam makes the best mash: use a potato ricer for proper smoothness and heat your milk and butter in a pan first before adding to potatoes – it makes a HUGE difference, honestly) and some fresh parsley on top.