Saving Time With Slow Cooker Pepper Steak!
This past weekend the clocks sprang ahead one hour, Don't get me wrong....usually I'm all over that because it's the first indicator that spring is on the way and spring is my favorite season of all because it holds the promise of summer. But this week is when we officially take ownership of our new home which means packing everything up, moving it to our new home and then unpacking it all. Sunday evening, I was a mess due to the time change - for whatever reason, my internal clock just didn't want to cooperate. Around 4 pm, my husband reminded me that we had to meet with our lawyer downtown at 5:15 pm on Monday. Even though St. John's isn't a very big city, all things considered, the traffic at that time of the day is horrendous. A meeting downtown at 5:15 would require leaving wherever I was at 4:45, drive like Didi Kong in Mario Cart, eek out a parking spot, and pray to God I could get one within 5 minutes of the lawyer's office. If the meeting with the lawyer lasted 45 minutes, (and I was determined to keep it under an hour 'cause we'd be billed for another full hour for anything over that), another 5 minute walk back to the car and another 20 minutes to get home. That would get me home by 6:25. Normally, that's not terribly late to begin making dinner but I had boxes to pack and sleep to be had!
It became blatantly clear to me that something in the slow cooker was the perfect solution for such a busy Monday. My husband has been drilling it into my head for the past couple of weeks that the more I buy, the more we have to move, so I've been trying to keep the on-hand food supplies to a minimum. A quick look in the freezer and all I saw was a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I wasn't in the mood for chicken so I donned my Canada Goose coat, (a present from my awesome husband that without I'm sure I would perish in the frigid eastcoast cold of winter), my wool hat, gloves and boots, jumped in the car and made a dash to the grocery store. I headed to the meat department to see what I could find and found a beautiful large sirloin steak. Of course! Slow Cooker Pepper Steak!
When I got home, I trimmd the steak of any excess fat, sliced it into 2 inch thick strips and placed it in a storage container. I whisked up a quick marinade of 1/2 c. soy sauce, Tbsp rice wine vinegar, Tbsp Hoisin sauce, minced up a clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I poured the marinade over the sirloin strips, placed the airtight cover on top, and into the refrigertor it went. I let the steak marinate overnight and then removed it in the morning and transferred it to a bowl while I went about my usual morning routine: pack up the lunches, breakfast for Mackenzie, make the beds, brush my teeth, splash some water on my face, dress and send my hubby and daughter off for their day with kisses and hugs. I then prepped my veggies for my Slow Cooker Pepper Steak. One medium onion, sliced, a cup or so sliced mini Portabellos, one green pepper, julienned, one red pepper, julienned. I had never made slow cooker pepper steak before so last evening, I browsed the net to see if I could find a good recipe. There wasn't one recipe that ticked all of my boxes, so I decided to wing it and create my own...how hard could it be right?
Beautiful sirloin steak strips marinating....what's not to love?
Veggies all prepped and ready to go!
Slow cookers are wonderful things. Cooking low and slow, all of the elements you add to the crock have lots of time to come together and give you a deep flavour and tender meat. But the one thing you don't get with a slow cooker is that rich carmelization that only cooking in a skillet can give. Because of that, I usually opt to brown my meat before adding it to the slow cooker so I heated a Tbsp of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medum high heat and flash fried my marinated sirloin strips, only 1/3 of the strips at a time because I didn't want the pan to loose it's heat from overcrowding - I wanted my meat to brown, not steam! When all of the meat was browned, I tossed it into the slow cooker.
After transferring the meat to the slow cooker, I noticed a bunch of lovely brown bits left in the skillet and I thought, 'it would be a shame to waste all of that flavour', so I then tossed my sliced onions and mini portabellos into the skillet and gave them a quick saute, just enough to soak up all of those lovely brown bits!
After adding the mushrooms and onion to the slow cooker with the beef, I added in my julienned green and red peppers, and gave it all a toss.
Lookin' pretty darn tasty already, don't you think? To cook in a slow cooker, you need some sort of liquid because slow cooking is actually a form of braising. I whisked together 1/2 c. no salt added beef broth, 1 Tbsp cornstarch (to thicken the sauce as it cooks), 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp Hoisin sauce, (I just love that stuff), a tsp. Worcestershire sauce, (my go-to steak seasoner), 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a Tbsp of brown sugar and poured that over the mixture. I then added in one, 14.5 ounce, can of no salt added diced tomatoes. I added in the liquid from the diced tomatoes too because I like lots of sauce but if you prefer a less 'wet' version, drain off the tomatoes before adding. I gave the works a quick stir to incorporate, placed the cover on my slow cooker, set the heat on low and let the slow cooker do it's thing for 6 hours.
After 6 hours, I reduced the temperature on my slow cooker to 'warm', put on a lick of face paint, aka. blush and lipstick, and jumped in the car with my husband and off we went. Assuming you don't have to run out the door at the 6 hour mark, the total cooking time on low is 6-8 hours, depending on your desired level of doneness.
The parking gods must have been smiling on us because we found a spot on a few car spacs from the front entrance. Although we were a few minutes early, our lawyer was ready to see us. We were a good 15 minutes ahead of schedule which would have been great except, on the drive down, our daughter mentioned that she wanted a new pair of pajamas for pajama day in school tomorrow. I could either take her out to buy some after we ate, or pop in somewhere on the way home. Given that all I had to do to finish off dinner was make a pot of rice, we decided on the latter.
We were in and out of the lawyer's office in 45 minutes, stopped into Old Navy for some new pj's and back home by 6:35. The aroma coming from the Slow Cooker Pepper Steak as we opened the front door felt like a big ole 'welcome home' hug! I had plenty of time to put on a pot of instant rice, (don't judge me!), and set the table and by 6:45 we were seated and ready to eat!
The first thing you notice about this meal is the aroma...an incredible blend of cooked beef, veggies, ginger and garlic. The sauce was rich and a perfect blend of savory and sweet, with a hint of heat and sour from the rice wine vinegar. I would definitely call this recipe for Slow Cooker Pepper Steak a keeper!
Doesn't that look absolutely yummy? Not sure...how about a close-up?
By trimming the beef of any excess fat, using no salt added broth and diced tomatoes, not adding any extra salt because of the soy sauce and with all those beautiful vegetables, Slow Cooker Pepper Steak is without a doubt, healthied-up. It's also budget friendly! This recipe can easily serve 6 people and I estimate the cost per portion to be $2.77! You can easily do all of the prep work, including slicing up the vegetables, the day before and keep them refrigerated which makes this an excellent 'make ahead' meal too.
Slow Cooker Pepper Steak....easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!