Friday, May 15, 2020

Aussie Beef Saltbush Stew in the Slow Cooker

It's been rainy and cold all this week, so I decided to make a comforting and nutritious beef stew. I saw some very nice looking chuck steak at Woolworths supermarket, and so my mind was made up. I added Saltbush flakes which we bought when we were travelling through the centre of Australia a couple of years ago which need using up.

 We saw the saltbushes growing everywhere through the drier regions of South Australia and the Northern Territory when we were travelling, and so I wasn't surprised to see it being sold as an Australian Native Food by a South Australian company called Outback Pride at one of the tourist stops. It makes a good salt substitute in cooking. I also added Vegemite, quintessentially Australian as well, and was happy to discover when at the end of the cooking time the stew was salty enough. No need to add any extra salt. Mr. HRK always adds vegemite, his secret ingredient when he makes savoury mince, one of his specialties, so if it's good enough for Aussie savoury mince, it's good enough for an Aussie Beef Stew.

Locky, our Chocolate Border Collie, whom our daughter Shannon calls Chocky Locky, has a new bed. Winter is almost here and he needs to be warm and cosy, even though he is growing a pretty impressive Winter coat as border Collies do. Mr. HRK made the bed during the week from bits and pieces lying around in his shed, mesh, timber and small steel posts, so this new outdoor bed is totally recycled and Locky loves it.

I conceded by buying him a new blanket for only $ 4.00 from Woolworths. He is a dog (we think) that loves his creature comforts.

This is the bed frame, made from recycled timbers, mesh and steel posts.
In case you missed my story when Locky first came to live with us only last August, he was our son's dog. When the family overseas from Perth to the Falkland Islands, Locky flew home with us on the plane from Perth and has settled in beautifully. He has become quite clingy real as time goes on, as we are home most of the time and he loves to be where we are. He has made a big difference to our lives, and we can't imagine life without him now, although inevitably that will come one day. He is 9 years old. Many animals will have become very used to having their owners around all day during this Covid pandemic, and it will be tough for them when they are left on their own again at home when everyone starts returning to work. Thankfully for Locky we are working permanently from home.

We really enjoy beef stew in the cooler weather, and this quantity will lasts us a few days. I have also frozen a batch. We have eaten it with green vegetables one night, and tonight we will just have it on sourdough toast for an easy meal, and then I will make it minus the potatoes into a beef pie. Yum, love a good meat pie. Thankfully Mr. HRK doesn't mind eating leftovers, and a good stew keeps improving in flavour.

Let's cook:

 I cook this for 3 hours on the Slow Cook High Temp setting on my slow cooker.

  • 1 kg chuck steak, or other stewing steak chopped into chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 500 g baby red potatoes, quartered (optional)
  • 4 carrots (or 3 very large ones)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 2 teaspoons Aussie Vegemite
  • 1 teaspoon Outback Pride Saltbush Flakes (optional if you don't have it)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 4 bay leaves 
  •  1 cup beef stock, 1 cup red wine (or 2 cups beef stock)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
  • I also added a chopped zucchini, and you could add chopped mushrooms if you like.

When I am cooking a stew for just us and I am short on time, I don't bother with browning the meat first, and the flavour of the stew is still wonderful. 

(Top tip) However, if you are cooking this for friends or you want to really impress the family and you have the time, by all means brown the meat first. It's a little bit of extra work but well worth it. To do this, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frypan over a moderate heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and coat the beef well in the flour and paprika. Add the beef in small batches to the frypan and brown, but don't burn or cook through. The brownings on the bottom of the pan will provide amazing flavour to the stew. Transfer the batches of meat as they are cooked to the slow cooker pot. Place the beef stock in the frypan, bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Start stirring the simmering stock until all of the beef brownings are lifted from the base of the frypan. This stock is then added to the slow cooker.) 
However if you aren't browning the meat first, just start cooking from step no. 1.
  1. Coat the beef in flour and the paprika mixed together and seasoned with just a pinch of salt. This is best done by shaking the beef and the seasoned flour together in a large plastic bag, or in a plastic pot with the lid on. (It's preferable to use something else rather than plastic for environmental reasons.) The flour coating the beef will help to thicken the gravy in the stew.
  2. Place the beef, potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic into the slow cooker pot. 
  3. Stir in the beef stock, tomato paste, vegemite, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, paprika, caraway seeds, saltbush flakes, and bay leaves until well combined. Season with ground pepper. I leave the extra salt seasoning until the end as the saltbush flakes and the vegemite might provide enough saltiness. I didn't need to add any extra salt for our tastes.
  4. Cover, and set your slow cooker to a slow cooking high heat for 3 hours, or a low heat for 7-8 hours. 
When cooked and the meat is tender, if the gravy is still a bit thin for your liking, in a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon flour and enough water to make a runny liquid. Stir this mixture into the slow cooker. Hopefully this will be enough. My slow cooker retains enough heat so that it thickens the stew there and then. However, you might need to cover and cook the stew again on a high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until thickened.

6. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and some green vegetables.

Locky loves it when I make a stew as well, as he gets to eat all of the bits of meat and fat I have trimmed off the steak, and some of the extra gravy.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends. Covid restrictions are starting to be lifted gradually here in Queensland, which means we can have five friends or family from different houses over from tomorrow, but I will be checking the rules tomorrow to make sure we know exactly what we are allowed to do.

Stay safe and healthy,



  1. This looks saucy, super comforting and so tasty. A perfect winter warmer! Hihihi..LOCKY!

  2. I shall have to ask my sister to send me some saltbush flakes. That dog bed looks amazing. Our dogs really enjoyed having me home for lockdown. The first few days of us going back to work was a bit of an adjustment for them :)

    1. Thanks Tandy, it's good you are back at work though, if you have more than one dog it would be easier for them, not as lonely.

  3. I Googled saltbush. :)
    The stew looks so good. After reading about Vegemite, now I want to have some Marmite. :)

    Hope you have a relaxing weekend, Pauline.

    1. Thanks Nil, I find Marmite a bit sweet for my tastes, but my Mum always liked it. Hope you can buy vegemite where you are. Hope you are well,Pauline

  4. Thanks for the recipe, Pauline. It is cold in Mackay? That would be a change for you. It is cool here at night now but sunny during the day so it is very nice outside.

    1. Thanks Chel, It is a bit chilly again here today with a brisk wind and trying to decide if it will rain, but then it is Autumn. Very changeable, so great for the garden. We look forward to Winter here. Best wishes, Pauline

  5. fabulous flavours there pauline. i love to make a big stew or soup and use it over several days. great to have cold stew on hot buttered toast:) i've not seen saltbush flakes before, but i bet they have a good flavour. I like to use Vegemite for flavouring too. It will be super hard for the animals when owners go back to work and school. I notice that in indian curries, the recipes often don't call for browning the meat off. we have tried that method, and it works well.

    1. Thanks Sherry, This is my second reply, the first one didn't work, so if you get two I am not going senile I hope:)A trip to the Outback is great for discovering lots of new things to use in cooking. Looking forward to going again sometime.

  6. I just found this blog. This looks delicious. Im going to make it for dinner tomorrow. Thank you.

    1. Hello Bobby, It's great to hear from you and I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know how it goes. I hope to hear from you again. Cheers, Pauline

  7. Nice post. It is very interesting article. I really love this. Thank you for the sharing. Aussie Spice


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