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How to cook a beef joint in a slow cooker...

Cooking a Sunday roast or a beef joint on any day of the week in a slow cooker is not how most of us traditionally think of a roast dinner but that is not to say it is not a great option, especially in today's fast-paced world of never seemingly having any spare time! Often this can result in people not spending the time cooking and either paying too much to eat out, or having to buy prepared meals which are just not the same in taste, quality or traceability. The slow cooker can really solve this problem!

slow cooked silverside in a roast dinner
Slow cooked silverside, before the gravy.

What are the benefits of using a slow cooker for a Sunday roast?

One of the benefits of a slow cooker for myself is simply the convenience, if I was roasting a rib of beef or sirloin joint in my oven, I am going to have to be there waiting for the perfect moment to take it out because it will not be in there long! They are best served rare and a real treat so I would not take any chances by leaving the house. However, the slow cooker means I can pop my beef joint in, a silverside or topside maybe, pop out to the shops, grab a coffee then have a stroll on my favourite Sunday morning walk all whilst knowing I have a lovely piece of beef ready to return to. When I do return, the smell of beef will have filled the house, and my mouth will be watering and ready to enjoy.

What beef joint is best for slow cooking?

The beef brisket or chuck is a very popular joint to slow cook as they are from harder working parts of the cow which are typically harder to cook and create a tender finish in the conventional oven, they can be made extremely soft and delicate if slow cooked for long enough. However, at Ruxstons we enjoy cooking a silverside or topside in the slow cooker because they are very simple to do. If purchased from Ruxstons they should both have a nice yellow fatty cap, the yellow colour being the high levels of omega 3 only found in 100% grass fed cattle, incidentally the yellow will be darker in summer months due to the spring and summer grass. Having good fat coverage is important as a piece of beef that is leaner will be more likely to dry out and likely have less flavour also, for this reason I typically do not slow cook a top rump which is a lean joint and better for a fast cook.

How long should I slow cook a beef joint for?

silverside in slow cooker for 10 hours
Slow cooked silverside on low setting

As a typical rule a 1.5kg 100% grass fed Beef Topside or Silverside from ourselves should take 5-7 hours if you are on the low setting or 4 to 5 hours on the high setting. Timing wise there is not the pressure to check constantly because it is not going to quickly change form once it has been in there for over 4 hours. This makes slow cookers a great way to start out cooking joints if you have not used an oven before. If you want the beef to fall apart more you can simply cook it for longer, up to 12 hours, however it will not slice as easily after this.

A topside or silverside will enable you to slice the beef and serve it like a traditional roast dinner, even if it is technically a pot roast, whilst if you cook a Brisket or Rib Roast it will almost fall apart after being in there for 10 hours plus, just like pulled pork, which is great if you are after this sort of thing of course.

The advantage of using the slow cooker is that even meat that is typically tougher, such as a brisket or rib roast will become very tender whilst maintaining a delicious true beef flavour. The 100% grass fed beef we sell here at Ruxstons, means the cows only eat what they find on the pasture in the fields and are not fed anything else, should have a stronger, more rich flavour as opposed to cattle that have been fed cereals and grains to speed up their growth, which typically have a slightly sweeter flavour and a less strong flavour as they are younger animals.

What to add to the slow cooking pot?

slow cooked beef
Finished slow cooked beef

Rosemary and thyme are two herbs I add but there really is no limit on what you can experiment with. The beef joint will shrink slightly, usually by about 20%, as the liquid comes out during the cooking process, this will aid the cooking process as it will help transfer and balance the flavours of the herbs into the beef. At Ruxstons we hang our beef for 21 days (not just the steaks but the entire cow) so less moisture will be lost during the cooking process as a lot of liquid will have gone during the hanging process, but the moisture that is lost will rest in the bottom of the dish and this can be used to make lovely gravy. You can throw onions, carrots and a variety of vegetables into the dish, I often add some celery too.

Well, that is pretty much it, if you are time short but still want to enjoy a top-quality beef joint then try the slow cooker, you can even set if off before work and return to enjoy a mid-week roast dinner that may otherwise be impossible to prepare without the use of a slow cooker.


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