Crock pot braised beef

Photographer: Emma

For me, this is soul food. It never ceases to amaze me that with a simple formula of “heat + time” an underwhelming combination of cheap beef cuts, vegetables and mediocre wine can transform into a beautiful dish of succulent meat enrobed in a this-is-guaranteed-to-put-hairs-on-your-chest type gravy.

If you don’t have a crock pot and you live in the Southern Hemisphere, I recommend you invest in one before winter rears its ugly head.  I love that during the long, slow cooking time, a rich aroma fills the house and radiating heat fogs up the kitchen windows.  It’s so exciting taking the lid off the pot hours later to unveil a “stars in your eyes” transformation.

I plan to make more of this kind of soul-warming fodder through the autumn and winter months and come spring I plan to emerge from hibernation a glorified Jedi crock pot master!


2kg beef brisket
Salt and pepper
Olive oil & butter

2 carrots
1 parsnips
2 onions
Olive oil & butter

2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour
2 cup red wine

2 cup beef stock
¼ cup masala wine/brandy or a splash (approx 2 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary


1. Taking the brisket, separate the meat from the bone, then chop the meat into pieces approximately 5cm long. I used 4 pieces of beef brisket for this recipe and chopped each piece into 3.
2. Brown the bones. You can do this in a hot oven (it will take around 20 mins at 200ºC). I browned the bones in a large pot as there weren’t many of them. You can also cook them in the microwave for 10 mins.
3. Dry the meat and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add oil and butter to a pan and once hot (smoking even), brown the pieces of brisket on each side. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.
5. In the same pan on a medium heat, add a little more oil and butter and sauté the vegetables until soft. I did this in two batches.
6. To the second batch add the flour and cook stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste and red wine. Stir this mixture continuously for 2 minutes until smooth.
7. Add the bones to the crock pot, then the browned beef followed by all the vegetables. Stir to combine.
8. Pour over the stock, masala/brandy/vinegar, add the bay leaves and rosemary and turn crock pot to high.
9. Once the liquid starts to bubble, turn the crock pot to low and leave for 10 hours.
10. After at least 10 hours, remove the meat with tongs, place on a plate and set aside.
11. Pour the remaining contents (liquid, bones, vegetables) through a colander or sieve into either a plastic container or a pot (this will be going directly in the refrigerator). Let this sit to cool for 10-15 minutes and then transfer the container/pot to the fridge. After an hour, remove the container from the fridge and skim the layer of orange fat off the top.
12. Heat this liquid for 10 – 15 minutes over a medium heat, you want to achieve a glossy, rich, thickened sauce – but be wary not to cook it too long (or take it too far) and end up with a marmite/vegemite-like paste.
13. Add the meat back to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Alternatively you can flake the meat into the sauce. I put the meat pieces into the sauce and then broke them up with a wooden spoon while they were cooking.
14. Serve with potato gnocchi, mashed potato or over fresh pasta. Top with parsley.
15. This recipe can be made 2 days ahead. Once cool, cover and refrigerate. Before reheating, skim fat from top and cook over a Medium-Low element.