Not sure what to cook for family night? It’s time to whip the slow cooker out and prepare your beef and veggies – here’s everything you need to make a killer dish with minimal effort and maximum taste.
Beef is one of the most suitable meats to for slow cooking, and that’s because the process intensifies the flavour and helps it develop a tender texture. Slow cooking involves submerging the meat in liquid over a low heat for a long period of time, and you’ll generally use a casserole dish and add in a range of herbs and veggies.
Nutritionally, it’s an exceptional choice for dinner – beef is high in protein, iron, zinc and b vitamins – packing in a whopping 100% of the recommended intake of B12 and 30% of vitamin B3, which is essential for the following:
- Digestive health
- Skin health
- Mental health
- Blood pressure
- Mental clarity
Zinc, of course, is your secret weapon for immunity – and beef boasts 43% of your daily needs. You’ll also find this immune-boosting nutrient in eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes and avocados. It’s essential for thyroid function, blood clotting and even maintaining our sense of taste and smell. Selenium is another vital nutrient you’ll find abundant in beef, which provides 31% of the daily recommended intake. This mineral is responsible for the following:
- Supporting mental health
- Reducing the risk for heart disease
- Maintaining thyroid health
- Promoting hair and nail health
- Reducing free radicals in the body
So, let’s get into the cooking process for beef – here’s what you’ll need.
Get the right cut of beef
You’ll want to use tougher cuts of meat as the long cooking period will soften them up. These include beef cheek, oxtail, feather blade and short rib cuts. Beef liver is another nutrient-dense option which is loaded with vitamins A and D, folic acid and iron, plus it also happens to be one of the most affordable cuts. Brisket and chuck steak also rank well for a slow-cooker meal, as they’re inexpensive and tenderise over the cooking process.
Note: Before cooking, brown the meat a little to add extra flavour during the slow-cooking process.
Go for sustainability
Buying sustainable beef is an important element of the process, not just for your own nutrition, but for climate change, the environment and animal welfare. While reducing or eliminating your intake of meat is the ideal way to promote sustainability and the ethical treatment of animals, if you’re preparing to make slow-cooker beef, there are a few things you can do to reduce your impact. Here are the main factors of sustainability:
- Organic: Make sure your product is organic, this is essential for reducing the damage caused by pesticides, antibiotics and intensive farming. Check out this directory to assist your search for organic produce.
- Free-range: Getting free-range beef is not only important for reducing the effect on the surrounding environment, but for animal welfare too.
- Grass-fed: Grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed when it comes to nutrition and the environment. When cows graze, it promotes good soil quality and improves the health of the grass itself.
Get your slow cooker ready
Of course, the other essential for slow-cooked beef is the slow cooker itself. The best thing about these is the minimal effort required – you can just add in your ingredients, then put your feet up and relax while it’s cooking away. Unlike some appliances – like blenders and air fryers, these cookers don’t tend to be overly expensive, with some going for $25. You may want to invest a little more in a higher quality make, but the cheaper ones will get the job done. Plus, buying a slow cooker will pay off in the long run, with endless options for meals to make. Take a look at some of the easy, nutritious dishes you can cook up while barely exerting any energy:
- Korean hot pot
- Brownies – yep, you can even make these nostalgic favourites with your slow-cooker!
Tips to successfully slow-cook your beef
Here are a few of the basic tricks to getting your meal up and running – it’s just a few, easy steps and then you’re free to relax while the beef cooks away.
- Sear the beef before adding it to your slow cooker – this intensifies the flavour and leads to a caramelisation of the meat.
- In the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking, add in veggies that cook quicker – think broccoli, beans and spinach.
- Add some cornflour to the liquids to thicken them and create a velvety sauce.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to add in a burst of flavour – that’s why we’re sharing a classic recipe from the Slow-Cooker eBook. We’ll walk you through a simple slow-cooker beef recipe to get you up and cooking in no time.
- 1kg beef-stewing meat, cut into 2cm cubes
- 4 carrots, cut into 2cm chunks (or 4 red potatoes)
- 2 medium green capsicums, deseeded and cut into 2cm chunks
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and quartered (approx. ½ can diced tomatoes)
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon granulated stevia, optional
- 1 cup beef stock
- Place beef in base of slow-cooker insert. Cover with carrots, capsicum, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and pepper, salt and stevia.
- Pour over the stock and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
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