Slow Cooker Classic Beef Bourguignon

I love a beef bourguignon. Have you ever seen the film Julie & Julia? The main character makes a beef bourguignon in that that literally cooks for 24 hours. It’s a bit overkill, but I do believe in giving this dish as long as you possibly have to cook, and using lots and lots of good French wine.

It tastes like luxury but isn’t expensive at all to make. Meat-wise you can use any old cheap stewing steak, as it cooks so long that it will be really tender by the time you’re finished. Don’t invest too hard in the wine as well, just buy the best you can afford. It’s not really a veggie friendly dish, but if you wanted to have a go then you could take out the meat completely and step up with the mushrooms.


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72 Mighty Meatballs

You can’t just make A FEW meatballs. They’re one of those foods where if you’re making them, you should be making a LOT of them. This happens especially if you’re mixing your meats – mine are pork and beef – because you can’t buy a tiny pack of beef mince and a tiny pack of pork mince. You might as well go whole hog, buy 1kg meat and spending your afternoon well… Ballin’. That’s exactly what I did, and we ended up with 72 meatballs in the house.*

I’ve been making this recipe as long as I can remember, as taught by my dad (author of other delicious creations such as The Best Bolognese Sauce and Tuna, Rice ‘And All Things Nice’) As my tastes have changed I’ve started adding more spice but the basic recipe remains untouched. Spend a couple of hours bulk balling, and you’ll have a freezer full of meaty delights that you can pop on pasta, serve in pittas as per my little packed lunches, or just eat (obviously defrosted and cooked through).

Recipe after the jump!

*Update – there’s like 20 left now


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Pressure Cooker Pulled Beef Brisket

I first ate pulled beef maybe 5 years ago at a restaurant in Leeds called Cattle Grid which has since shut down. They did pulled pork or pulled beef sandwiches for £5 at lunchtime, with chips and slaw. I’ve never had as good pulled beef since! With a huge craving in tow, I set about trying to recreate it. You can slow cook this if you don’t have a  pressure cooker, or even just put it in the oven on a very low heat.

As a side note, some of you might know I got a new job in March at High Street TV, who produce the Pressure King Pro (or PKP). It’s something we developed ourselves and is a really neat piece of kit. This post is 100% off my own back, I really like the product and can’t imagine my life without it now.

Anyway back to the beef. You need a nice bit of brisket – ours was just under 2kg. Look for plenty marbling, this means it has lots of fat running through it which will keep it moist and delicious. 

I marinated this overnight in some mustard, BBQ sauce, sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Wrap it in clingfilm in the fridge and give it a rub and a turn after 6 hours or so. Then it’s into the pressure or slow cooker, make sure you brown it on all sides first. Then I added a mug full of water and set the PKP to ‘meat’ for 1 hour 15 and it was falling apart. If you use a slow cooker I’d allow 4-5 hours, same in the oven. 

When it’s ready, shred the beef using two forks and it should come apart quite easily. Keep the cooking juices and add a little cornflour to them to thicken into a gravy, if you want, or just pour over the beef to keep it nice and moist.

Serve in bread buns with homemade slaw, or if you’re feeling wintery like I was, just add to a big plate of mash.

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Crispy Beef With Sweet and Spicy Sticky Sweet Sauce

I couldn’t believe how easy this beef dish is to make! And it’s so tasty and delicious, perfect for a really quick midweek dinner.

I’ve seen a few variations of crisped mince served dry but I felt like it really needed a sticky sauce, and so this dish was born.

I also upped the veg content by serving on some fresh rice noodles mixed with chopped mange tout, edamame beans, green peppers and bean sprouts and topping with some blanched spring onion.

Blanching spring onion might just be my new favourite thing for oriental dishes. It calms down the flavour without any of the over browning or catching you can get when you’re stirfrying at a high heat.

Anyway, recipe time!



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Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

When you’re scraping ice off your car and wearing a fur coat, you know it’s winter. Which means slow cooker EVERYTHING.

One of my favourite meats to cook in the slow cooker is beef, mostly because you can get stewing steak so cheaply, and because the long slow cooking turns it into a wonderful melt in your mouth texture.

Goulash has a bit of more fruitiness than brown stews (probably because of the tomatoes, no surprise there), it’s a bit less rich and lends itself to a bit of spice, if you’re that way inclined. I love it with some mash on the side and some sour cream or yoghurt.

Be warned, you will need lots of paprika for this recipe, and lots of peppers!

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

  • 3 large red peppers
  • 500g stewing steak
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large jar passata or 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • Beef stock cube
  • Bay leaf
  • Rapeseed or vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To skin the peppers, slice into chunks and remove seeds. Grill under a hot grill until the skins blister and burn, and then place in cold water to soak off the skin. Once skinned, slice into fine ribbons about 1cm thick.

Meanwhile, chop the garlic and onion and soften gently in a pan with some oil until the onions are translucent. Set to one side. In a large pan (or in your slowcooker base if you have a searing one like me), sear the beef all over until around 75% of the meat has changed colour.

Place meat, onions, garlic and peppers into slow cooker and add the tomatoes, paprika, cumin, bay leaf, splash of wine, beef stock cube and stir. At this point you could add a little chilli powder if you wanted a bit of a kick. Check for consistency, you don’t want it to be too wet as it is tricky to reduce down in the slow cooker.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and set it cooking for around 6 hours on low heat. Serve and enjoy!

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Slow cooker Hungarian goulash

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Aubergine Lasagne

Now this was a hodge podge of a meal but aren’t those just the best ones sometimes? I really wanted lasagne and thought I had left over bolognese in freezer. I hadn’t. I’d eaten it. I just didn’t remember.

While I was pawing (and shivering) through the freezer I stumbled on a single frozen beef burger, half a packet of quorn and some hidden vegetable sauce.

Hidden vegetable sauce is essentially a tin of tomatoes and every roasted vegetable you can think of whizzed up into a purée. Kind of like baby food but also kind of delicious. I had a lightbulb moment to bulk it the quorn with the beef burger and some mushrooms, and make a sauce using the hidden vegetable sauce. I added a bit of Harissa and cinnamon to pep it up and it turned out great, layered with aubergine and bechemel and baked in the oven.

That’s a very specific recipe, and if you have all the real ingredients for this I’d recommend making it properly, it’s probably going to be nicer and less of a faff than making your own hidden vegetable sauce to begin with. But if you have any lying around, throw it in!!


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The Best Bolognese Sauce

Ooh, now who doesn’t love a good bol? I can’t actually take credit for this recipe as it’s my dads, and one of our best and tastiest family recipes.

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In our family bolognese isn’t an every day food, it’s made with love for special occasions, like for Boxing Day, and then stored in portions in the freezer for when it’s needed most. There’s an inherited anxiety in my family where if you don’t have back-up bol in the freezer, you might starve.

When we were younger we would eat this with packet spaghetti, it’s since evolved to home made fresh spaghetti or tagliatelle which again is a family affair, stretching and rolling out the dough and hanging it in the attic. You can see where my love of food comes from!

I have to modify this recipe slightly because Gary can’t eat celery (he’s really intolerant). So my ‘sofrito’ of onions, celery, pepper and carrot becomes simply onions pepper and carrot. If you can eat celery though, do put it in because it really increases the savouriness.


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Quick and Thrifty Beef Burger Ragu

What is it with supermarkets selling insane portions of mince? Who eats 250g or 500g in one serving? Who?

This crafty recipe uses a hamburger split into bits for the mince, saving money and food waste. Obviously the mince quality depends on the burger you use, but as a disclaimer it’s not usually the nicest meat. Combining it with some good veggies and not overcooking it means you get a tasty result though. Plus adding lots of cheese at the end, because everything is better with cheese.



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