Before we get to the slow cooker part of the post, check out my bargain buy...
I picked this up at the post office (of all places) this morning. It was in the clearance display and I couldn't walk past it. $10, flowery, pink and lime green. What more could a girl ask for? At work my cuppa always ends up going cold, I think this is the perfect way to make it stay hot just a little bit longer and hopefully I might even get to drink it!
Right, more slow cooker hints. Some cookbooks say you must brown the meat before you add it to the slow cooker while others tell you not to bother so it really is up to you but I find that browning the meat first makes a huge amount of difference to the end product. Browning the meat seals in the juices and the flavour and, in my opinion, if your making a casserole-y type dish you need to brown the meat first to give it all the extra flavour that turns a good dinner into a great one. Also, if I'm browning the meat (red meat that is, not chicken) I'll dust it in flour first - that lets the sauce really thicken up and get some nice texture. Otherwise I find the sauce/juice ends up really runny and takes away from the flavour too.
Another good tip I was told was to give the inside of your slow cooker bowl a light spray with canola spray. It helps stop the food from sticking quite so much and makes it heaps easier when you're doing the washing up.
The recipe I'm sharing now is the one we had for dinner tonight. So, quite literally, straight from the table to you! It's in the current issue of Australian Good Taste as an oven slow cooked meal but I've halved the recipe, changed a couple of things and done it in the slow cooker instead. It was absolutely delish - Hubby and Offspring #1were most extravagant with their praise. #2 had a boiled egg instead. (But I knew she wouldn't like this, plus she hasn't been terribly well so I offered her egg and toast straight up!) . I served it with some steamed carrots and beans. The photo is absolutely disgusting - this is no reflection on the yumminess of the dish. Do you know how hard it is to make anything brown look appetising?? The original recipe had red chilli in it but as none of us are big chilli fans I left it out.
Slow-Cooked Beef Ribs with Cinnamon and Sweet PotatoAdapted from a recipe in Australian Good Taste, July 2011
1/2 cup plain flour
1kg beef spare ribs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup beef stock
400g can diced tomatoes
400g sweet potato , peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
1 tbsp honey
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
1. Switch slow cooker onto low and spray the inside of the bowl lightly with canola spray. Put flour, ribs, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag. Seal bag and shake until ribs are thoroughly coated with flour. Heat 1 tblsp oil in a frying pan and cook half the ribs for 2 minutes each side, or until browned. Transfer to slow cooker and repeat with remaining ribs.
2. Heat remaining oil in the pan and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the stock and tomato and stir through. Bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Pour spiced tomato mixture over the ribs in the slow cooker. Add sweet potato and honey and stir to combine.
4. Cover with lid and cook on low for 7 hours or until the meat is falling of the bone. Scatter chopped parsley over to serve.