Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cheap Eats #3

I feel as though I've barely cooked this week. Monday was leftover pulled pork for lunch and pasta with tomato sauce for tea (onion sweated down with a couple of garlic cloves, two tins of tomatoes thrown in with a good squirt of tomato purée and a bit of paprika) and Tuesday was more pork with a lazy tea of kebabs from the butchers, a cheat's stir-fry and some rice.

I guess it wasn't until Wednesday evening that I actually cooked and that was just a pissing marrow that had been forced upon me. Someone from work had given Gav one as he thought I would like to do something with it. Needless to say I did not want to do something with it, but I felt obliged and after checking out a few recipes I decided to give it a good stuffing.

Lentil Bolognese is a favourite quick, cheap and healthy meal here and I decided to use it to stuff the marrow. I used A Girl Called Jack's recipe as a base, but I used 240g of lentils, added 2 sticks of celery, skipped the wine (and the stock) and just used parsley as I didn't have any thyme. As that was simmering away I prepared the marrow by slicing two big portions off it, scooping the seeds out and then parboiling until the flesh was giving. I then stuffed each with the Bolognese and topped off with cheese. The slices were baked in a hot oven for about 20 minutes, and well, they were alright. I wouldn't bother again, but I managed to clear my plate. The Bolognese was good mind, and one that I will continue to do.

With lunches covered thanks to leftovers and a few nights/meals out planned over the weekend, the only thing left to cook this week was the slow cooker Thai beef curry. The recipe was given to me as a challenge by @TheFoodNut. It wasn't something I would have thought of trying, but I was pretty pleased with his choice. The recipe was simple to follow and although I didn't like the idea of sticking coconut milk in right at the start of the recipe (surely it would curdle?), I knew there was no point in doing this challenge unless I followed the recipe properly. Having said that, I only put about 30 mls of fish sauce in and I used 1 kg of stewing beef rather than 2 kg.

Given that this was an easy slow cooker recipe, I did think there was a lot of faff to get through at the start of the cooking process. I had to brown the meat, make up the curry paste and then cook the curry paste in the slow cooker on high for a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients. Then I had to wait for it to cook! Half way through the cooking process I was asking myself whether there was actually any worth in using the slow cooker for this type of dish, especially as the contents of my cooker started to look a bit dry 5 hours into cooking. After all, it only takes about 40 minutes to knock up a Thai green curry.

Anyhoo, the proof is in the tasting and, well, it was good. Really flavoursome and rich, but not as fresh tasting as you would normally expect Thai food to be. And although the meat was tender and fell apart at the touch of a fork, it was quite dry (and remember that I'd used half the meat and all the sauce ingredients). There was me worrying about the coconut milk curdling! By the end of its cooking time, the coconut milk was nowhere to be seen. Sure, it had been soaked up by the meat, but we could have done with some sauce and I wonder whether the addition of another tin of coconut milk, say 20 minutes before serving, would be a good addition.

So what's the overall verdict? Yeah it's good, as in it tasted good, but the recipe needs tweaking. Would I do it again? Yeah, just with the addition of some stock whilst cooking and another tin of coconut milk in the last 20 minutes.

Have you got any tips on slow cooker Thai curries?!

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