Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Slow Cooking to beat the evening ERP

Living in the northeast of Singapore sucks especially during the late weekday evenings when travelling home on the Central Expressway (CTE) with what would appear to be half of Singapore as well, all of us plodding along at snail's pace bumper to bumper. Apart from patience, an automatic transmission car helps - can you just picture the irritable monster behind the wheel who has spent more than half an hour stepping on clutch, and alternating between accelerator and brakes?

To ease the evening traffic congestion, the Little Red Dot's bureaucrats have recently imposed electronic road pricing (ERP) for use of the CTE during the hours from 6pm to 8pm, hoping to divert part of the north-bound traffic (i.e. drivers who baulk at paying more road charges) to other non-ERP roads. Hubby and I thus have 3 choices, (i) contribute to the government's coffers, (ii) join other drivers in congesting the non-ERP roads or (iii) stay longer in the office and leave at 8pm after the ERP hours.

Beef-Stew Options (ii) and (iii) will no doubt result in us returning home even later than usual, which leads me to this evening's post on the benefits of a slow cooker. Just imagine... you've arrived home late, hungry but too tired to even lift a pan, and as you enter your home, the welcoming aromas of a delicious homecooked meal waft in from the kitchen, courtesy of your slow cooker. One of my favourite slow-cooked one pot dishes is beef stew in rich tomato sauce.

Putting aside 20 minutes of prep time in the morning, quarter 4 tomatoes, peel and quarter 4 to 6 medium-sized potatoes, 1 big onion and 2 carrots and place all inside the slow cooker. In fact, the potatoes, onions and carrots can be prepped the night before and packed separately into bags and kept in the fridge for use in the morning.

The beef is cut into equal size chunks, which I normally saute for a few minutes in olive oil to brown the meat before I add to the slow cooker. Add a can of pureed tomatoes, 1 to 2 dried bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, one and a half cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir mixture in slow cooker and cover. Switch on slow cooker and leave on low heat.

Many, many hours later when you return home, the beef stew is ready to be scooped out and eaten with a crusty loaf. If you prefer a thicker sauce, stir a tablespoon of cornflour into 4 tablespoons of water and add to the beef stew and cook on the slow cooker's high heat setting for about 10 minutes or so. Me, I'm usually too hungry to even bother with this step...hunger makes me a very impatient person!


Blogger boo_licious said...

Thank god, we don't have that ERP system. I love stew too and was planning to cook some this week but the heat just made me change my mind.

8/03/2005 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Clare Eats said...

Great idea! mmmmmm stew.....

8/04/2005 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger J said...

hi, terrific post! love my slow cooker too (i use it mainly for chinese clear soups; now inspired to make beef stew too) - it's a godsend when you're time-pressed. i love how you can bung everything into the pot and come home much later to a dinner that's practically cooked itself, nary a finger lifted...

8/04/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous spots said...

thanks for sharing this recipe. I hv a slow cooker which i never use becos for some reason, the recipes i try never work... will try yours definitely!

8/05/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi boo_licious - the ERP, a necessary evil but that's another story, anyway, slow cookers are great for hot weather cos' u don't have to sweat in the kitchen - just leave the meal in the slow cooker and go for a swim!
hi clare - mmmm.. will we be expecting a stew post from u??
hi j - my exact sentiments :)
hi spots - don't leave the slow cooker in the storeroom, try it out - it's really simple!

8/06/2005 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger junebee said...

Crock pots are great. My mother used to put everything in the crockpot the night before, put the entire crock in the fridge. Then the next morning she would put the crock into the electric part and cook it. You can only do this if you have the type where the bowl is completely removable from the heating element.

8/06/2005 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi junebee - hey, that's a great idea, now why didn't I think of that? thanks for sharing family tips :)

8/06/2005 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Voon said...

Hi! Would like to find out what type of beef do you use for the stew, i.e. which part of the cow? :)

6/27/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi voon, normally the cheaper tougher beef parts are good for stews which cook for a long time (thus allowing the protein strands to soften) - if you go to the supermarket, it is normally indicated as beef chuck (or beef for stew) or you could use beef shin also.

6/27/2006 11:11:00 PM  

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