One of my favourite things about winter is all the comfort food we can make on the bitterly cold days. Winter is not my favourite time of year but stews like this one make it much more bearable.
Slow cookers can seem challenging before you get the hang of them, but they are incredibly convenient & a power saver too. Using a slow cooker over 8 hours takes up the equivalent amount of energy as an old incandescent light bulb would, over the same amount of time. Compare that with stove top & oven cooking.
According to Telegraph.co.uk:
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (www.cse.org.uk) estimates the average electricity usage of an electric oven between 2-2.2kWh, while a microwave uses between 0.6-1.5kWh. A slow cooker uses approximately 0.7kWh over the eight hours.
Energy comparison website Uswitch says: “Slow cookers can also be an energy-efficient option – they use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly while you get on with other things. ”
I received my slow cooker as a housewarming present, so this is not a sponsored post 😀 I just love that I can leave the family meal to cook while I’m at work or on campus during the week, or spending time with baby, hubby, the dogs or in the garden on the weekend. Do you need any more convincing to get that slow cooker in the back of your cupboard dusted off, or to get one if you’re new to slow food?
500 grams minced beef
500 grams cubed, deboned stewing beef / chuck
1 large onion sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage & julliened carrots (I use a coleslaw mix)
*2 large potatoes cut into bite size cubes
1 large carrot sliced into 2cm thick pieces
4 baby marrows sliced into 2cm thick pieces
1 cup mixed lentils & wheat
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped oregano/marjoram
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Salt & pepper to taste
500ml beef stock (plain water or 50/50 mix of water and red wine are also fine)
First, brown your mince and 1/3 of the onions in a pan with a little oil, for about 5 minutes then place in the slow cooker.
Next, brown the stewing beef cubes with another 1/3 of the chopped onion for about 5 minutes as well. The idea is just to sear the meat, not cook it. Place that in the slow cooker too.
Add the last 1/3 of the raw onion, as well as the vegetables, spices, lentils, stock & herbs. Add enough stock to almost cover the ingredients.
I don’t totally submerge them, because then I’d have to add a thickener later on. The steam will cook the very top layer of exposed ingredients.
Set the slow cooker on High for 6 hours. Don’t be tempted to open it often during cooking time. I only open the pot about an hour before the end of the cooking time, just to stir everything and check that there’s no excess liquid. The lentils to a great job of absorbing the stock and thickening the stew.
Once cooked, this makes a hearty, simple but very delicious stew. You don’t need to serve it with anything else, as the potatoes, lentils and that bit of wheat provide enough carbs. This proved to be very popular when I last made it. The quantity is enough for several meals. After being a main meal over lunch, this stew was warmed up as a midnight snack and taken to work on the Monday as a packed lunch.
I’ve made several different stews in the slow cooker, with varying results. I’ve found the ones with lentils and no added thickeners are the absolute best.