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Grab a Handful

May 16, 2014

I have a beef stew in the slow cooker today. It is a very rough and ready recipe, which changes easily depending on what ingredients I have. Very roughly:

1 handful per person of cubed beef
1 handful per person of sliced onion or leek
1 handful per person of potato, in large pieces
1 handful per person of carrots
Water & stock cube, or home made stock, or beer; or any combination to cover
salt & peppar
A dash of worcestershire sauce or soy sauce per person

Plus anything else I feel like adding – today we have some turnip in there, and I may add some shredded cabbage for the last half-hour.

So why a handful, and not a cup, or a given weight? For cooking like this, exact quantities are not important, you just need to balance between meat, veg and root veg, so it is interesting on the plate. What I like about handfuls is that I find it automatically adjusts, depending on how hungry I am – sometimes they are dainty handfuls, and sometimes they are builders hands; without my having to actually think about it.

Method: Pile the veg into the slow cooker. If you have time dust the meat in seasoned flour, but if you are in a hurry, it can just go in as well. Add the liquid, hot if possible, and then add the seasonings a flavourings. Set your slow cooker on high until it bubbles, and then turn it down to low and cook for 6-8 hours.

3 Responses to Grab a Handful

  1. Chris Malme on May 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    With 30-45 minutes to go, shred a handful of cabbage and add that to the pot. If you dusted the meat before cooking, the stew is probably getting thicker by now. If not, take a couple of ladles of liquid from the stew, into a bowl or large mug. Carefully add a small amount of flour, and whisk with a fork; keep adding flour slowly, until you can see it thicken. Give the bowl a final whisk, then pour it back into the stew, and stir the thickening in. Then continue to cook on low.

  2. Jo Hopkinson on May 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Oo I’m going to be controversial here šŸ™‚ There is no way you are going to get the best out of your meat if you don’t sear it first. You need something called the Maillard reaction to happen in order for it to taste really good – and for that you need high heat. Dredge/dust your meat in seasoned flour by all means, but give it 5 mins in a frying pan/wok/go to pan and burn (I mean sear) the heck out of it on the outside before adding it to the slow cooker. Your taste buds will thank you!

    • Chris Malme on May 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      For quickly cooked dishes, I totally agree.

      For slow-cooked dishes (whether in the slow cooker or a smoker), where the meat is cooking in excess of 6 hours, I have tried it both ways, and it actually doesn’t make that much difference.

      As it happens, my slow cooker has a metal pan, which means dishes can be started on the hob; and I quite often do that. But even if I don’t, there is still plenty of flavour in that stew.

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