If you love the kind of rich, tasty beef that melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting more, slow cooking should be one of your favourite moves in the kitchen.
From simple casseroles and stews packed with flavour to more extravagant curries, a quick chilli, soups and so much more, cooking low and slow offers great versatility, convenience and superb depth of flavour every time.
Why slow cook?
One of the greatest things about slow cooking beef is that it guarantees juicy tenderness. You can use the tougher cuts of beef – such as chuck steak and topside – which are naturally more robust as they come from well-used muscles on the animal, and still find they’ll be transformed into juicy morsels that will literally fall off your fork.
Why? Because the nature of cooking on a low heat for an extended period of time in fluid encourages the breakdown of the connective tissues, including the protein collagen, which makes the meat tough when cooked quickly. As the tougher, cheaper cuts of beef can also be fattier, this also helps to ensure the beef won’t dry out while adding extra flavour.
Best cuts of beef for slow cooking
To get the most out of the slow-cooking technique, use chuck steak, round steak, blade steak, topside, silverside, skirt steak, or (gravy) beef for results you’ll love.
Another perfect beef cut for slow cooking is brisket, which is great for shredding as it literally pulls apart once cooked – like this slow-cooked pulled beef brisket recipe which tastes great in tacos, rich pastas, brisket bowls and more delicious variations.
Where possible, look for pieces of meat that are on the bone or marbled. And if you have a few snags to use up, you can always throw them into the slow cooker too.
Tips for slow cooking success
To get the best result with your beef in the slow cooker, follow these tips for success:
- Brown the beef first. If you’re not using a slow cooker, do this in the pot you’ll be cooking in (a cast-iron flameproof casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid is best) to ensure you retain all the juices and get achieve maximum flavour.
- When seasoning, add just a little at the start and then, if still required, adjust to taste before serving. As slow cooking encourages the reduction of liquid, the flavours can become very concentrated.
- Don’t overfill the pot, as very little steam escapes.
- Keep the lid on at all times. Slow cooking times require the building up of a consistent heat to cook meat and make it deliciously tender. The liquid should just tremble at the centre of the pot – not bubble vigorously.
- You can always make the dish the day before you plan to eat it to enhance the flavour and tenderness.
Other benefits of slow cooking
Slow-cooking offers many benefits, beyond the melt-in-your-mouth texture and hearty flavour. Perhaps one of the favourite reasons people turn to this cooking method is because it’s so easy and hassle-free – once the prep work is done and all the ingredients are in the slow cooker, you can safely leave it to simmer away for hours until it’s ready.
Better yet, the best cuts for slow cooking generally tend to be cheaper, so it’s great for the budget. To add to that, the “one-pot wonder” approach requires very few utensils so slow cooking is wonderfully easy to clean up after too.
Like to cook in bulk? Slow cooking is a great way to prepare large batches that you can easily freeze in portions for later – for those late work days, busy weekends and emergency backup meal moments.
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