On the way back from work, do you fantasise about a hearty, warming meal that requires almost no time to make? We know the feeling… When it’s cold outside and the autumn is in full swing, there is nothing better than a lovely slow cooker beef meal that is waiting for you on the side of the kitchen worktop. One of our cold evening favourites is a Maroccan-Spiced Slow Cooker Braising Steak served with fluffy couscous or rice.
Why We Love This Slow Cooked Beef Recipe?
Seb gets the same Christmas present from his employer every year. It’s a voucher for a local butcher that has to be redeemed by the end of January. That only means one thing to us. Paradoxically, on the last day of the Veganuary, we head to the butcher’s and fill our fridge and freezer with meat that normally sees us through to the summer months.
One of the things that we got this year was Braising Steak. Having done a quick recipe search online, I wasn’t thrilled. All the recipes were mainly for pies or cooked in simple onion gravy, and I was adamant to get more flavour in this steak dinner. I wanted something that would fill our house with the aroma of spices, something with a bit of heat and possibly a bit of fruity sweetness. Something like Moroccan tagine. Except with beef. And without a tagine dish. Made in a slow cooker.
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And here it is… our tender, almost melt-in-the-mouth Moroccan beef steaks with a bit of an attitude from harissa and a lot of aromas from coriander and cinnamon.
If you’re keen, let’s get into the technical bits.
All you will need for this delicious and aromatic slow-cooked beef dish are below:
What is Braising Steak? How to Cook It?
Braising Steak is a general name for cuts of beef that benefit from long slow cooking. Cooked this way, the meat becomes extremely tender (almost melt-in-the-mouth, provided you cook it for long enough) and the juices from the meat normally form part of the sauce.
The best cuts for braising are the ones that have ‘marbling’ – lines of fat going through the piece of meat. The marbling ensures the meat doesn’t dry out in the long cooking process and the meat stays tender. Normally, the cuts that are perfect for braising are the less expensive cuts – chuck, skirt and leg are amongst the cheapest. Flank steak or shoulder of beef can also be used and will result in an extremely tender finished result.
The simplest way to cook braising steak is to sear it in a pan for a minute on each side (this will help preserve the moisture in the meat). Then place it in the slow cooker or a casserole dish (if you’re cooking in the oven, details below). Chop up some vegetables, such as onions, carrots or potatoes and chuck them in with the steaks. Pour enough stock to cover and cook!
Long and slow cooking means that you can add flavour that will seep into the meat and really enhance the flavour. This can be a blessing or a curse since your steak will infuse with all the flavours that you put with it. I personally, like strong bold flavours, and I push them to the limit. But if you are more of a traditionalist and would like the main flavour to be beef, go easy on any flavourings.
How to Make Braised Steak Without Slow Cooker?
- On the stove: If you don’t have a slow cooker (which we highly recommend getting), you can make this meal on the stove. After searing the steak and cooking your onion and spice mix, put the steaks back in the pan. Pour the stock over. Add the bay leaves, cover and cook for about 1 hour. After an hour, remove take the lid and simmer gently for another 1-2 hours. Check once in a while and add more stock or a splash of water to ensure nothing burns on the bottom. Your beef should pull apart easily with two forks. If that’s not the case, cook for another 30 minutes. 5 minutes before the steaks are cooked, add the apricots. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- In the oven: Preheat the oven to 150°C Fan. After searing the steaks and making your onion and spice mixture, place everything in a casserole dish with a matching lid. Pour the stock over, add the bay leaves and cover with a lid. Place the dish in a preheated oven and cook for 3 hours, checking after 2 hours and adding more stock if needed.
What If My Sauce Isn’t Thick Enough?
If you’re cooking this recipe in the oven or a slow cooker, it is likely that not enough liquid has evaporated during the cooking process and your sauce is on the thin side. There are two good ways to fix this:
- Mix a tsp of cornflour with a tbsp of water in a small bowl. Take the steaks out of the slow cooker and cover them to keep them warm. Pour the sauce into a pan and place it on medium heat, then stir in the cornflour mixture. Heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. If you’ve cooked your steaks in the oven in a heatproof dish suitable for cooking on the stove, you can remove the steaks and place the casserole dish directly on the hob (make sure your dish is suitable for it!) and thicken your sauce with cornflour in the same dish.
- You can thicken the sauce with ground almond (fine almond flour works best). Simply put your sauce on medium heat and add a tsp of ground almond at a time, stir for a minute, and judge the consistency. Continue until you reach the desired consistency. Your sauce will have a bit more texture and will be more filling, but I find it makes this dish even more delicious!
How to Cook Braising Steak in Slow Cooker?
First thing in the morning (or approx 10 hours before serving) heat a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Sear your braising steak for about 1 min on each side, then move the steak into your slow cooker.
Into the same pan, add a tbsp of oil, finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic and place on low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, then add ground coriander, cinnamon, harissa and ground almond and cook for another minute, stirring. Scrape the onions onto your braising steaks in the slow cooker, and pour the hot stock over. Add bay leaves and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Serve the braised steaks with a generous helping of sauce and rice or couscous! If your sauce isn’t thick enough, have a look at the text above on how to thicken your sauce.
This recipe is great with lamb too. Use a cut that can withstand (and benefit) from long slow cooking. The best lamb cuts for this purpose are neck or diced lamb shoulder. If you don’t mind slightly fattier meat, you can use breast as well.
Simply add 1-2 tbsp of concentrated rich tomato paste instead. Ginger will still give this dish a warming aftertaste, but you will have no chilli heat in it!
Other Beef Recipes
If you like a substantial beef dinner on chilly winter nights, have a look at our favourites below:
Slow Cooker Braising Steak with Moroccan Spices
- Slow Cooker e.g. Crock Pot
- First thing in the morning (or approx 10 hours before serving), heat a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Sear your braising steak for about 1 min on each side, then move the steak into your slow cooker.
- Into the same pan, add a tbsp of oil, finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic and place on low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, then add ground coriander, cinnamon, harissa and ground almond and cook for another minute, stirring. Scrape the onions onto your braising steaks in the slow cooker, and pour hot stock over. Add bay leaves and cook on low for 10 hours.
- Serve the steaks with a generous helping of sauce and rice or couscous! If your sauce isn't thick enough, have a look in the text above on how to thicken your sauce.