Monday, January 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Crockpot Casserole - Comfort Food for those January Blues

The 30-year old Tower bible!
Today I made a nice beef casserole in my Slow Cooker which is fantastic. I love it, and it is great when I'm going out for the day.I went to Cork to visit son Shayne, fiancée Jany and granddaughter Sofia who's almost a year. Where did the time go?

I had been to Dublin yesterday for a meeting and visiting friends and middle son Martin afterwards, and travelled up and down with another friend who was meeting her daughter in Dublin, so it's been quite a weekend.  When I came home tonight - dinner was ready. I just had to do the spuds (for teen daughter and me) and heat some rice for hubby, and that was that. No pressure.

Lovely colourful warm stew
Pre-fry everything if you have time - no worries if not!
I made my own combo of about three different recipes and it turned out lovely - I used a beef stew base but as I had some pork I added that, with seasoning from another recipe in a Slow Cooker book I have. It's great comfort food for the January blues.

We got our Slow Cooker as a wedding present nearly 30 years ago - it's a Tower and has a 2-litre capacity, so it's not enormous - but it's more than adequate for four-six people if they've got average appetites! I resurrected it in the past few months after years of not using it or only occasionally taking it down to see if it still worked, as a friend had been raving about hers. So I have enjoyed making some great comfort food with it. Today was great as I put on the dinner before going to Cork and when I came home about six hours later the dinner was done to perfection.

Beef and Pork Casserole with Mixed Vegetables


Finished dish
  • 500g/1lb stewing beef - cubed
  • 300g/12ozs pork chops/steak - cubed
  • 500ml/1pint beef stock (use a quality stock cube if no home made stock about)
  • 250ml/glass red wine
  • 6 chopped tomatoes
  • 3tbsp tomato puree/paste
  • 1 teasp. sweet paprika 
  • 1 teasp. hot paprika (optional - I use delicious smoked paprika from Spain, wonderful!)
  • 1 teasp. Allspice
  • 1 teasp. ground coriander
  • 1 teasp. mixed herbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 carrots - sliced
  • 3 peeled potatoes - diced
  • small turnip/swede - diced
  • 150g/6 oz button mushrooms - halved if big 
  • 2 onions - chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 2 Bay leaves.
    At the start of cooking

(These spices and herbs give it a lovely North African exotic flavour but it's still non-threatening to traditionalists who love their casseroles tasty but not fiery!)

  • Preheat the Slow Cooker on High for about 30 mins. 
  • If you have time, brown the  meat and onions and garlic in a little oil in a pan. This gives a bit of extra flavour to the dish. 
  • Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
  • Transfer to the warmed Slow Cooker and mix well.
  • Cover and cook for 4 hours on High, or if leaving all day turn it down to Low after a half-hour or so, and cook for around 7 hours.
  • If you leave it longer don't worry as you can't burn the food or do too much damage as it doesn't really overcook. 

Handy Hint: 
Cut root vegetables smaller than you might for a stovetop dish as they take longer than the meat to cook to soft. Nothing worse than hard potatoes in a casserole! So ensure you leave enough time to thoroughly cook them. I assure you 4-5 hours on High was enough to cook them through for me.

Enjoy with boiled Basmati Rice or for the ultimate in comfort food - mashed potatotes. I used Rooster spuds with lots of butter, a little milk, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Hard to beat it, worth a try. Hope you enjoy it and don't be put off by the long list of stuff you need. It's mostly in your kitchen cupboards.

Nearly gone!
Ready to go!


Ann said...

I love my slow cooker. The casseroles from it are just delicious and there is nothing like having a tasty meal when you get home from work waiting for you. Your recipe sounds mouthwatering. I am going to give it a try later this week. Thanks Catherine and what a busy weekend you have had. I spent mine, shopping for little treats for daughter, knitting for Little Sir, visiting with Son and future d-i-l and catching up with the laundry.

Peggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peggy said...

Hi Catherine, was not paying attention when writing last comment!
I have never had a slow cooker but it seems to be ideal for anyone out working all day,nothing like having hot comfort food ready on a cold winter's day.

Rita said...

WOW! This recipe is a keeper; love the combination; will keep this for sure. I used to have a slow cooker just like yours a long time ago. Slow cooker is my favourite appliance in my kitchen and have been usng it for about 45 years....not the same one 'cause I cook in it year round at least twice a week In the summer it saves heating up the house with the oven. Grat post Catherine.