I can’t believe I am posting a slow cooker recipe in July, but the abysmal weather here in the UK is making me crave comfort food like this Chinese Style Beef. Of course the beauty of a slow cooker is that it doesn’t generate very much heat, so if you are lucky enough to be actually having a summer this year, it may come in handy for you too. Even in the hottest of weather, it can give you an incredible feeling of well-being and comfort coming home safe in the knowledge that your dinner is waiting for you.
The last time I made this recipe my husband and I attended a Friends of The Henley Literary Festival party. It started at six o’clock,with a finish promised for eight, so I wanted to have something ready and waiting for a family meal afterwards. All it took was a bit of light work earlier in the day. Our son then put the rice on to cook just as we left the party, and I arrived home just in time to drain it and serve it with the beef. My husband poured us all a nice glass of wine, and everything was set for a relaxing evening. Just the way I like it.
Chinese Style Beef
4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
8 carrots, peeled and cut in large slices
(If the carrots are very thick, halve and quarter them)
1 stick of celery
2 pounds of cubed chuck steak, stewing beef or braising steak
¼ cup flour
a twist or two of freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato puree in the UK)
1½ cups beef stock
¼ cup soy sauce (you can used reduced sodium soy sauce for this recipe)
¼ cup sherry or Madeira
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8 scallions (spring onions), shredded
2 cups rice (I like to use Basmati)
I like to brush the inside of my slow cooker with oil before I start to add the ingredients as it helps prevent sticking. I also turn the slow cooker on low to start to heat up. However if I am contradicting the instructions for your own slow cooker, do follow them instead!
Mix the flour and a twist or two of freshly ground pepper together in a paper bag, and toss the cubes of meat in it. You may need to work in batches. Set the meat aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it begins to soften. Put the onions in the slow cooker. Put the carrots and the stick of celery on top. (If you prefer to chop the celery that is absolutely fine. I use it in stick form as my husband cannot stand the texture of cooked celery. This allows me to get all the lovely flavour out of the celery, but remove it before serving.)
Add about 2 tablespoons of oil to the frying pan and brown the meat, in batches, adding each batch to the vegetables in the slow cooker as it is browned. Add more oil to the pan if necessary.
Mix together the tomato paste, beef stock, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, pepper and brown sugar. Grate in the garlic and mix together. Pour over top of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Put on the lid and cook on low for 9 to 11 hours or for 5 to 6 hours on high.
About an hour before serving, remove the celery stick (if using) and stir in the mushrooms.
To serve, cook the rice in boiling salted water according to package directions. Stir two thirds of the shredded scallions into the stew, reserving the remaining ones for garnish.
Serve the Chinese Style Beef over the rice, garnished with the remaining scallions.
Cover any leftovers and store in the fridge. As there are three of us if we are not having guests, I sometimes cook only half the rice. I then serve the leftover Chinese Style Beef over noodles for a delicious change of pace.