Slow Cooker Beef and Eggplant
Layer eggplant and beef in a slow cooker, and add a little seasoning, for a super simple, delicious, and gluten free dinner!
Problems! I got problems…
Well, all right, not all real problems, but…
When you’re in a Community Supported Agriculture farmshare (called a CSA) you get vegetables when they are ready, not when you are. On the one hand, that means vegetables at peak perfection, wonderfully ripe, just out of the field – on the other hand, it means that if you don’t use the eggplant this week, you can find yourself looking at two (or three, or more…) eggplants next week.
That’s not really a problem – I had a note from last year that I should write about cooking eggplant in a slow cooker, which is just right for this. Simmered eggplant is delicious, takes much less room than a raw one, and is ready to eat – and you know I like to have a few heat and eat vegetables in the fridge or freezer for quick and easy meals!
Then – Rich was swinging past the grocery store to pick something up on his way home, and asked if I wanted anything else. The flyer said there was a good sale on round roasts – pick one up! But… he didn’t see that (and remembered the price point, not the name of the cut, so didn’t quite realize he didn’t see it) and…
I don’t know what was wrong with the meat cutter, but what I got was small pieces of beef shoulder sliced half an inch thick and labeled for London Broil. Not the pot roast I expected – and not London Broil, either, it’s not the best cut for the recipe, and cut too thin. The center would be overcooked by the time I had the outside brown! So I spent a day trying to figure out how to cook these without turning them into shoe leather. And then – ah… the slow cooker. Beef and eggplant taste wonderful together, with the moisture from the eggplant the beef will be tender, I’ll have dinner and a freezer meal (or two) and it will all work beautifully. As indeed it did.
The third problem was just because of this post… Have you ever noticed the lack of “drool-worthy” Pinterest pictures, the absence of Bon Appetit covers of Stewed Eggplant? Well, there is a reason… Raw eggplants are gorgeous, in all shades from deep violet through lavender to white… Cooked eggplant is, let’s just say, Not Pretty. Tasty, yes. Versatile, from baba ganoush to ratatouille, absolutely! You can even sometimes get a Not Unattractive grilled or roasted eggplant (make sure you show mostly the skin! Though it does lose color…) But stewed eggplant just looks like beige mush.
I remember when cookbooks had few, if any, photographs. Some of my favorites just had a handful of pen and ink sketches. Photographs were for the glossy magazines – but many of us knew the food didn’t really look like that… There were (eventually) laws governing food in ads, but editorial? They could use lacquer to make something shiny, dye to “fix” the color, the food didn’t even have to be edible! But most food bloggers don’t resort to such tricks, not least because most of us then eat the food ourselves for dinner! So then, in our own community, we engage in long passionate discussions of how to make brown food look appealing… So many delicious meals are beige or brown, and just don’t photograph well!
Make this one, anyway. It was super easy – and really quite good. (You, too, can add parsley… No, really, serve it with a tossed salad, it’s a great combination!)
I had three small to medium eggplants… Not the cute mini ones, just ordinary ones but on the smaller side. About a pound and a half, all told. So take somewhere around that amount of eggplant (measurements do not have to be precise in this!) cut it in chunks, and put it all in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Then take about a pound and a half of some tougher cut of beef – chuck, round, something like that. Stew meat would be fine, as well. Yours probably won’t be sliced thin… I cut it in some big chunks to distribute around the pot, you could really just lay it down on top of the eggplant.
Quarter a large onion, and slice it in thin slices. Strew the onion over the top of the meat. Then sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over everything.
See, everything will all sort of melt into each other, and meld flavors wonderfully… The eggplant under, and the onion over the meat will themselves provide enough moisture that the beef will cook beautifully tender. without losing flavor.
Cook on high for six hours, or on low for eight.
When you are ready to serve, spoon some of the sauce at the bottom of the slow cooker into a small bowl. Stir tahini into that to dilute it, then stir that back into the stew. (Which did nothing for the appearance, but tasted very good indeed!) And we enjoyed freshly ground pepper over it all!
The whole thing took very little prep time, and just simmered happily away while I dealt with, well, some other problems… and I have two more meals in the freezer. The flavor is good, and a little unusual. The meat is tender, but quite distinct in texture from the vegetables, and a nice change from the pot roast I’d planned! So sometimes… problems are opportunities!
Slow Cooker Beef and Eggplant
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
- 1 1/2 pounds beef - chuck round, something appropriate for pot roast or stew
- 1 large onion
- 1/2 t salt
- 3 T tahini
- Cut eggplant into chunks,and put in bottom of a slow cooker.
- Layer beef over eggplant. (Optionally, cut in large chunks to distribute.)
- Peel and quarter onion, and slice thin. Strew over top of beef. Sprinkle salt over everything.
- Cook in slow cooker, 6 hours on High or 8 on Low.
- When ready to serve, stir in tahini to make a sauce.