Slow-Cooker Braised Beef with Creamy Polenta
and spring salad / oranges / almonds
Use the slow-cooker to turn a relatively inexpensive cut of meat into enough tender braised beef for two nights of dinners. This night's dinner is classic comfort food with beef served over creamy polenta with a fresh spring salad on the side.
Slow-Cooker Braised Beef (for two nights):
- Onions - 1 , chopped
- Carrots, large - 2 , chopped
- Garlic - 3 cloves , chopped
- Beef, boneless chuck, shoulder or round roast (enough for 2 nights) - 3 lbs
- Oil, cooking - 2 Tbsp
- Tomatoes, diced (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can
- Tomato paste - 3 Tbsp
- Oregano, dried - 1 tsp
- Water - 4 cups
- Milk (sub water) - 1 cups
- Salt - 1/2 tsp
- Polenta, uncooked (sub grits) - 1 cup
- Butter - 2 Tbsp
Spring Salad with Oranges and Almonds:
- Oranges - 2 , sliced into segments
- Vinegar, white wine - 2 tsp
- Honey - 2 tsp
- Mustard, Dijon - 2 tsp
- Poppy seeds (opt) - 2 tsp
- Oil, olive - 2 Tbsp
- Lettuce, butterhead or Boston leaf (sub any mixed greens) - 4 oz
- Almonds, sliced - 1/4 cup
- Onions / Carrots / Garlic - Prep as directed and combine in one bowl. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Brown beef - Season beef on all sides with some salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and then sear meat until browned on all sides.
- Slow-cook beef - In your slow cooker combine beef, onions, carrots, garlic, diced tomatoes (including liquid), tomato paste and oregano. Set cooker to low and cook until beef is falling apart and tender, 6 to 8 hours (or 4 to 5 hours on high). (Note: If you prefer not to use the slow-cooker, you can also prepare the beef by browning it in a Dutch oven, adding all remaining ingredients, and baking it covered at 325F / 163C until tender, 2 to 3 hours.) (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Oranges - Slice into segments.
- Roughly chop or shred beef using a fork and sharp knife. (Discard bone.) Return to slow cooker and toss with cooking liquid. Once tossed in liquid, set half of the meat aside for Thursday’s tacos.
- Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, and combine water, milk and salt. Bring to a boil, keeping a close eye on it because milk can easily spill over. Add polenta, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until polenta becomes thick and creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir butter in until fully melted. Season with additional salt, if needed.
- While polenta simmers, make vinaigrette by combining vinegar, honey, mustard, poppy seeds (if using) and oil. Toss with greens, almonds and orange segments just before serving.
- Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with beef and cooking liquid. Enjoy with salad on the side.