Saturday, 27 September 2014

Beef Curry

Now that the children are both back at school, and their activities are kicking in, the crock pot is going to become an essential piece of equipment in the kitchen. We don't seem to have a single evening when there isn't something happening - basketball, guitar, piano, musical society, parents' association....

This was particularly true this week, with both hubbie and me very busy at work, and we had to plan well all week. On Tuesday evening, I prepared this beef curry, which cooked away all day Wednesday and was ready for Wednesday evening, when hubbie got home late and Ms Fussy Eater got back from basketball training.

Slow cooker beef curry
Beef curry with rice
I had some prepared beef (about 650g) and was wondering what to do with it. I was trying to choose from the Slow Cooking Properly Explained recipe book, between a beef curry and beef in barbecue sauce. So, I asked Mr Teenager what he'd prefer. He managed to look up from his laptop long enough to say "curry", and so the decision was made.





First, mix together 2tbsp flour, 1tbsp curry powder (I used hot), 1tsp each ground cumin, turmeric and ginger, and a pinch of salt. Then toss the prepared beef in the mixture to coat.

I heated 1tbsp olive oil in a pan and fried a chopped onion and crushed garlic clove until soft, then added the beef and browned it all over. I put the onion and beef mix into the crock pot, with any remaining flour and spice mix.

Added to the beef is: 150ml beef stock, 400g chopped tomatoes, 2tbsp mango chutney, dash of Tabasco, 1tbsp lemon juice and 2 apples, chopped.

The recipe calls for cooking apples, but I used eaters from the garden. The recipe also uses 25g sultanas and 25g cashew nuts - but we have nut allergies in the house, and nobody except me would eat the sultanas. So, I left them out.

I left the crock pot in the fridge overnight (while the flavours developed) and next morning left it to cook on low for about 10 hours.

The Result

The smell in the house that evening was amazing. The recipe produced a beautifully rich curry with a thick tomato sauce. There was no evidence of the apples at all (which is just as well, because Ms Fussy Eater would spend her time picking them out of the sauce) and the curry had a lovely, gently sweet flavour. I expected it to be hotter, since I'd used hot curry powder, but it was actually just nicely spicey. Next time, I might add more curry powder. We ate it with rice and it really was a lovely meal.

The Verdict

Mr Teenager certainly enjoyed it, declaring it to be delicious. Ms Fussy Eater was tired after 90 minutes of basketball training, but she had a small helping and pushed her rice around the plate a little bit. She was heard to say that it was "quite nice" which is high praise. There was no evidence of vegetables in the meal, which is always a plus, for her.

This was definitely a success and could well become a regular on our menu.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

To be honest, I haven't made much use of my crock pot over the summer. With the kids off school, and our days a bit more relaxed, not to mention holidays, it just didn't seem necessary. I did make the best whole chicken in a crock pot a couple of times, and also some versions of the slow cook bacon, but I didn't try anything new at all.

Until last week, when the kids went back to school. Ms Fussy Eater progressed to secondary school, joining her brother Mr Teenage on the school bus. This means that they both have longer days and are not hanging round the house any more. They get home about 5pm and get homework done before Hubby and I get home from work. Unless they manage to prepare something for themselves - and seriously, Mr Teenager can barely manage to pour boiling water over pot noodles - they are usually hungry.

So, last week we selected two recipes from the Australian Women's Weekly easy slow cooking book. The first of these we had on Tuesday - meatballs in tomato sauce.


Meatballs and spaghetti is a huge favourite in our house, especially with Ms Fussy Eater. But she has a favourite recipe, for Spanish meatballs, made with minced lamb. We're tried other recipes, but she's never satisfied. So, it was a little risky to try this, but the picture looked so good!

I made the meatballs the night before, putting them (in layers) into the crock pot and leaving them overnight. I made the sauce separately in a jug, and poured it over the next morning. It took a bit of preparation.


On monday evening I soaked 2 slices of bread (brown/white mix) in 125ml milk for 10 minutes. Then I whizzed this up in the food processor with an onion, a carrot, 3 cloves garlic. This mixture was added to about 600g lean minced beef, with an egg, 2 tbsp sundried tomato paste, and some dried oregano. I shaped the mixture into small-ish balls, resulting in about 30 meatballs, which I put into the crock pot bowl and left in the fridge overnight.

To make the sauce I softened a chopped onion and 2 more cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Then I added a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of cherry tomatoes (these were whizzed together in the food processor to avoid any lumps). I also added another 2tbsp sundried tomato paste and 250ml beef stock. This was left in a jug in the fridge overnight.

Next morning I simply poured the sauce over the meatballs and left it to cook on low for about 6 hours. We served it with spaghetti.

The Result

I honestly expected to come home to find all the mince stuck together at the bottom of the dish, and that I'd have to just mix it up and serve as bolognaise. But, actually, the meatballs all held their shape beautifully, dispersing themselves around the sauce, which was beautifully rich in texture, colour and flavour. The breadcrumbs in the mix made the meatballs light and not at all dense, like you might find in other recipes.

The Verdict

This was really delicious and everybody had second helpings, and there was still some leftovers. Mr Teenager just covered his plate with parmesan (a usual behaviour) and devoured it. Ms Fussy Eater complained initially that it wasn't the favoured recipe, but then ate everything down quite enthusiastically. She did concede that it might be her second-favourite recipe for meatballs and she wouldn't mind if we made it again.

I think we will make it again!