Family Food Magazine
real good family food
  • Slowly Does It


    Dawn's Slow Cooked Steak PieDon’t stress trying to serve dinners to a family who are in and out. Dawn Cromar explains how you can prepare a wholesome family dinner that won’t spoil or need the microwave . . .

    Preparing a nice family meal can be very difficult when you’re not all planning to dine at the same time. One person may be working late, another is at an after school activity or round at a friend’s house to play; it’s tricky trying to think of recipe ideas that can be served at different times when you don’t want to simply re-heat it in the microwave.

    I find using the slow cooker can provide a solution to this problem, or even a good old fashioned casserole dish.

    The added bonus with the slow cooker, is that you can begin cooking your meat before you head out the door for work if you like – and if it’s set to low and has plenty of cooking liquid, it shouldn’t burn or dry out. You can serve up say half of the meal, and then leave the rest on a low setting until the rest of the family is ready to eat – saving the hassle of re-heating or cooking something from scratch at a later time.

    One of our favourites in the slow cooker, is our version of a tasty steak pie! It’s a simple recipe but it always tends to get the thumbs up. It’s a fairly straightforward meal, which can be dished up at different times and variations include a sausage casserole, pork or chicken.

    My method involves sprinkling a generous amount of plain flour onto a plate and seasoning with salt and pepper. Take your cubed steak (you can add kidney if you like) and cover it in the seasoned flour. Heat around a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan (this would be for around 1lb of meat) and gently brown the steak.

    Transfer the meat with two chopped carrots into a slow cooker. Prepare around a pint of beef stock and add this to the slow cooker and, depending on your taste, you can add a bottle of ale or a generous glug of red wine to the pot. If you’re adding wine, I would also add some rosemary or just  mixed herbs. If you’d rather not add alcohol, you can add more stock. Whatever liquid you choose, make sure there is plenty for the meat and veg to cook in to prevent it drying out.

    I would then fry a diced onion in the beefy oil and add this to the slow cooker also; you can add whichever vegetables you fancy.

    This can be cooked on a low heat for about eight hours – perfect for switching on before you leave for work/school run in the morning and you don’t really need to do anything to it until later on in the day, although if you can, keep an eye on it and give it a stir.

    I usually cheat if I’m serving this midweek, by using ready-made puff pastry, which I roll out and cut into squares for each person eating. This usually needs about 20 minutes to bake in the oven after you’ve given it a quick brush with a beaten egg. You can keep your pastry lids crispy without burning by leaving them in a warm oven – but this isn’t ideal if they’re not going to be eaten for several hours. In which case you can simply serve up the steak pie as a casserole – they’ll never know!

    Depending on how thick your liquid is, you may need to add some cornflour to thicken it up – you can always remove the meat and vegetables and make your gravy in a saucepan if it needs to be thickened a lot and needs a higher heat. If it isn’t tasty enough, you can add some gravy salt – you will know yourself how strong you like your gravy/sauce to be.

    When you’re dishing up, put your pastry lid on top of your beef mixture and serve with potatoes (roast is my favourite but if you’re in a hurry, boiled or mashed or even chips will do fine!) and any additional vegetables you like.

Leave a reply