This is maybe the laziest recipe I’ve ever done. Lazier than that is takeaway, and we wouldn’t like this, would we? It is also one of my favorite slow cooker recipes, so I thought I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I had to share it with you guys. Because I love you. And this recipe is pure love. Okay, maybe a bit of meat too. And some spices. Cajun spices to be exact. My very own special Cajun spices mix.
I have known and appreciated Cajun cuisine since I was young, because after all, this is almost like French cuisine, albeit with a Louisiana twist. No? Well, maybe I’m simplifying the matter a bit too much here, but what I can say for certain is that I’ve been experimenting with this cuisine for a long time now. My aunt even brought me back some cookbooks from a trip she made to Baton Rouge many years ago. I don’t claim to be a specialist of Cajun cuisine, I’m not even from the US, mind you, but I can say in all humility that I’m a decent cook, and that I’m always curious about other culinary traditions.
If you want to have a good idea of what real Cajun cuisine is, I guess the best thing is to make a trip to Acadiana, and roam the land to find the best places where to eat. While you’re there, you can always make a stop at Alzina’s, who is deemed to be one of the greatest Cajun cook alive. I don’t pretend to compete with her. I don’t even pretend that my recipe is authentically Cajun. I do know though the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking, and no it’s not only that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes while Cajun cuisine does not. Besides the ingredients, I think it’s also a matter of spirit. Cajun cooking represents for me the epitome of simple, hearty, rustic food, with rich flavors and local ingredients.
This recipe uses only a few basic ingredients. It is their combination and the method of cooking that makes all the difference.
I took a big chunk of beef. This cut is relatively lean (but with a few fat pieces, enough to make it tasty), which makes the dish relatively low fat, and I like it that way. I’ve made it with fatter cuts and it didn’t add anything in terms of flavor. I browned the meat on all sides in a skillet with a little oil.
During this time, I cut all the vegetables in small dices to make the holy trinity, this staple of Cajun cooking. I know the traditional trinity uses green peppers only, but I like red ones as well, so I use them. You can of course stick to the tradition and put green ones only. I chopped everything with my vegetable dicer, which makes me gain a precious amount of time.
Because I use the trinity quite often, I took advantage of preparing this dish to make a big batch of it and put in the freezer for later use. Bam! That’s what I call laziness at its best.
When the meat was done I transferred it to the slow cooker and put the vegetables in the skillet. There is no need to add more oil at this point, the remaining fat and juices from the meat should suffice to prevent everything from sticking to the pan. I just browned the vegetables a little bit, to give them flavor, then crushed garlic with a knife blade and added it to the pan.
I transferred everything to the slow cooker and added some Cajun spices. I make my own mix, which consists of paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Use any spice mix you like, but I really advise you to make your own instead of using the ready-made Cajun seasonings available in stores. It will make a huge difference to your dish. You can always make a big batch and re-use some for later recipes.
What’s left to do is stir a little bit to mix evenly the vegetables and the spices, and turn on your slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours on low. Beware of not overcooking the meat. I could make do with 8 hours for this piece because it was rather thick, but if yours is thinner don’t go over 6-7 hours. The meat must be very tender and fall apart when you pick it up with a fork, but still juicy. If you cook it too long it will be dryer than expected.
Here is the meat after cooking.
And the best part? It takes 20 mn tops to prepare, no kidding.
Look at this beauty! Okay, it’s maybe not that beautiful, but believe me, it tastes amazing.
Ingredients for 8 pers.
1,5 kg lean beef
200g onions (or two medium onions)
200g bell peppers, green and red, or green only
100g celery (or two stalks)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbs. vegetable oil (rapeseed oil works well here)
Cajun spices mix:
2 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp.ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Preparation time: 20 mn.
Cooking time: 6-8 hours
Macros per serving: 266 kcal.; protein: 41g; carbs: 6.8g; fat: 8.7g
Heat the oil in a skillet. Pat your meat dry and when the oil is hot, brown the meat on each side for 5 mn; or until it is golden brown. While the meat is browning, wash and cut your vegetables to make the holy trinity.
When the meat is well browned, put it in the slow cooker and add your vegetables to the skillet. Brown them during 5 mn. They don’t need to be cooked through. Crush the garlic with the blade of a knife, and add it to the trinity. Stir for one minute more, then transfer the content of the pan to the slow cooker.
Blend all the ingredients of the Cajun spices mix together, and put them in the slow cooker. Stir a little to spread the spices evenly in the vegetables and on the meat. Rectify the seasoning and add salt if there is not enough. Don’t add water! The water from the vegetables and the juice from the meat will make the sauce.
Turn your slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours (or overnight).
Serve this dish with rice, kidney beans, cauliflower, okras, any vegetable you like. I had a carb refeed, so I could eat it with rice and beans, and it was divine!