Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recipe-in-Progress: Crockpot Jollof Rice with Beef

It should be possible to make jollof rice in a slow cooker. That was my premise yesterday, and I adapted my recipe accordingly (less liquid and oil, more onion and garlic, coarser chopping, not grating, etc.). Then, when I added everything together, at the last minute I decided to add another 1/2 cup of broth. The result was about a 55% success: right flavor, tender meat, but, yuk, very mushy rice, with some grains undercooked.

I'll try again today, but since it took 8 hours to cook (crock pot, remember), I don't want to wait to share where I am now. The recipe follows, but if any of you have any suggestions, please let me know how to improve this recipe. It's not ready to be given a number yet. Do you think using a shorter grain rice would be better? Adding the rice to the skillet and heating the stew with the rice before putting it in the crock pot? What about the amount of liquid?

Crockpot Jollof Rice with Beef


1 cup broth
1 cup tomato juice or water
well drained tomatoes (seeded, if you wish), from a 28 oz. can of tomatoes (plum, if possible) (about a cup)
1 pound of stewing beef (such as chuck)
3 tablespoons peanut or other vegetable oil
2 cups of onion, chopped (about 2 medium)
1 tablespoon of fresh peeled ginger, chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste (5 tablespoons)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper (optional)
1 whole chili pepper, seeded (or substitute about 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon curry powder, thyme, or other herb (optional)
2 teaspoons seasoning (like Adobo) or regular salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 cups chopped vegetables (e.g., carrots, peas, green bell pepper), fresh or frozen

Turn the crockpot onto high to preheat for about 30 minutes while you prepare the ingredients and stew.

1. Cut the beef into cubes (about 3 dozen).
2. Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
3. Prepare the canned tomatoes. NOTE: I'm not fond of tomato seeds, so I generally use a strainer over one bowl to collect the juice while I use my fingers to remove the seeds, and a separate bowl to smash the tomato between my fingers and add to another bowl. When finished, I discard the seeds and drain any extra liquid from the tomatoes into the bowl with the juice. I use part of the tomato juice for the liquid in the recipe. Also, I prefer the pulpier canned plum tomatoes.
4. Put the oil into a heavy skillet and heat it. Add a little of the onion into the oil to season it and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the beef cubes and brown them over medium high heat.
5. As the cubes are browning, add the onion, ginger, garlic, salt and peppers, and any other seasoning such as curry powder or bay leaf. You may remove the meat to a bowl as it browns if you need more space in the pan. Add the tomato paste and cup of tomato juice and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of broth to the stew and mix. Pour a few tablespoons of broth into the crockpot, then add the stew and 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice into the pot and stir them well. Add the rest of the broth and stir again.

Cover and cook on high for an hour, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 7 more hours. About an hour before serving, stir in the chopped vegetables, or cook them separately and stir them in just before serving the jollof rice. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf, or whole chili pepper if you used them.

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