NOT JUST A BEEF SHORT RIB AND SWEET POTATO MASSAMAN CURRY
Call me behind the times, as in thirty years behind the times, but I have only just realised the magic that comes with being the proud owner of a slow cooker. All of this time the high-tech kitchen whizzes of the 21st century have been hogging my bench space (I’m looking at you Thermomix), when really my heart belonged to the basic of all equipment, the humble crockpot. Oh the simplicity, it only has THREE settings, low, high and auto. It makes the Nokia 3310 look modern. And I love it!
I have the ladies on my most recent wellness retreat to Bali to thank for this revelation as the discussion at dinner turned from what tropical cocktail they were going to drink next to what wonders they had been simmering in their slow cookers during winter. I was astounded. Prior to this conversation I mistakenly thought that you could only cook a stew in a slow cooker. How wrong I was. The modern day slow cooker allows you to cook even without liquid being in the pot. Hello roasts, braises, soups, curries, bone broths, stocks and heart palpitations because I was so excited.
Here I was “saving up” my slow cooked dishes for days when I was home all afternoon to supervise the cooking process. How foolish I felt. Needless to say one of the first things I did upon returning home was order an ordinary, no frills attached slow cooker (thankyou FlyBuys points!), the only feature being that you can remove the pot and pop it on the stovetop so you can fry off ingredients first which means less dishes. Tick.
I was most excited to use my slow cooker to create deliciously tender beef. For me, beef is a staple protein in our family as not only does it contain loads of zinc and iron but there are so many great secondary cuts like ribs, cheeks, mince, chuck or blade. With a little bit of effort in the kitchen, these cuts are super tasty! I also find it much easier to feed a family with secondary cuts, with “one pot wonder” type dishes. You can load these recipes up with veggies and there’s always plenty of leftovers for the next day. You can also chuck it in the freezer for one of those times when you don’t feel like cooking dinner. Bonus.
My recipe for Beef Massaman is definitely more family friendly then the fiery curries you might find on the streets of Thailand. I’ve deliberately made the curry paste sweeter with roasted garlic and onion and chosen short ribs as this cut of beef is deliciously tender when slow cooked and the rib bones impart a depth of flavour to the curry, as bones tend to do. You can choose to add in more dried chilli if you would like to spice things up, or leave it as it is for a family friendly meal.
I’m a massive believer in introducing kids to different flavours at a young age so that their palate develops, even if you dull their serving down with a little more coconut milk so that it’s not so intense, I think it’s worth giving this recipe a shot. As we are nearing the last days of winter, I thought I’d sneak in a curry that’s a perfect excuse for getting out and dusting off the old slow cooker for, or in my case brand spanking new!
I’m really happy to be sharing new recipes with you again on my new-look website and have two more of my most favourite family friendly beef recipes over the next few weeks. So stay tuned and get cooking! Enjoy, Dani. X
BEEF SHORT RIB AND SWEET POTATO MASSAMAN CURRY
Serving size: 4-6 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 – 8 hours (slow cooking)
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
2kg Australian beef short ribs or Asado ribs
½ head garlic, skins on approx. 5-6 cloves
1 red onion, skin on
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon, snapped in half
2 cardamon pods
1 dried chilli (or more or less)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric – for colour
½ cup roasted peanuts
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, roughly chopped
5cm knob of ginger or galangal, skin peeled
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 x 275ml can coconut milk
4 cups roughly chopped sweet potato / kumara
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind puree
1 ½ cups coconut water
Fish sauce, to season
Fresh coriander, to garnish
HOW YOU MAKE IT
As strange as this may seem, place half a head of garlic and red onion, with the skin on, directly onto individual, small gas burners on your stovetop and turn the heat onto low, allowing the skins to blacken. Turn every few minutes, ensuring all sides are blackened evenly.
Afterwards cook the garlic for about 5 – 7 minutes and onion for 10 – 12 in a pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before peeling back the skin and revealing softened, sweet garlic and onion. Roughly chop and set aside. Alternatively, you can skip this step and roughly chop raw onion and garlic for a less sweet result.
Whilst garlic and onion is cooking place coriander and cumin seed, black peppercorns, cloves, snapped cinnamon stick, cardamom and dried chilli into a small, heavy based frypan and place on low heat, allowing spices to toast for about 5 – 10 minutes or until spices are fragrant, shake pan occasionally.
Remove spices from pan and allow them to cool in a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder. When cool, grind to a fine powder, and then stir in ground turmeric.
Place garlic and onion, roasted peanuts, chopped lemongrass, ginger or galangal and spice powder into a small food processor and blend until a smooth paste forms.
Add coconut oil to a large slow cooker pot over gas stovetop or in a large fry pan and fry off short ribs on both sides until golden and caramelised then set aside. Add all of the curry paste to the pan and fry off in the remaining beef fat until lightly golden or 2 – 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer, then add tamarind, coconut sugar, coconut water, mix well to combine and bring back to simmering point.
Add beef ribs and sweet potato to mix and place in slow cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours. Alternatively, cook on stove top on low for 4 hours, topping up with a little water when needed.
When curry is ready to serve, season with a little fish sauce and garnish with fresh sprigs of coriander. I like to serve this curry with a wholegrain like brown rice or quinoa, but you could also serve with cauliflower rice too.
The great thing about this recipe is that there are so many other cuts of beef perfectly suited for the slow cooker if you can’t find short ribs at the supermarket or butcher. You should try cooking with beef cheeks. No need to grill the cheeks, just throw it all into the slow cooker and let it bubble away to create a melt in your mouth result.
If you prefer a hot curry, use much more dried chilli, this recipe is a family friendly recipe so is quite sweet compared to a hot massaman curry. Add in at least 5 – 10 dried chillies for more heat.
If you are short on time, use a good quality massaman curry paste in exchange for making your own curry paste. Just look for one without added preservatives, additives or loads of sugar and vegetable oil. It’s hard, trust me.