This is how you turn a budget cut of beef into the most meltingly tender version of this popular Chinese take out. And you can make it freezer friendly!
“Very few stir fries can be converted into a slow cooked version without compromising flavour or texture. Beef and broccoli was made for it.”
Have you noticed that when you order Chinese that the meat is always incredibly tender? It’s not because they are made with expensive fillets. It is because of a technique used to tenderise the meat called “velveting”. All you do is marinate the meat in cornstarch and sauces.
But even with velveting, you can’t disguise cheap beef cuts because stir fries are cooked quickly over high heat so the meat is still quite tough. And if you use an expensive cut of beef, it will be tender but it won’t be meltingly tender.
The solution? SLOW COOKING. Not an authentic method, but the ingredients in the recipe are. Time savvy? YES. Cost efficient? DOUBLE YES.
“I took an authentic Chinese Beef & Broccoli recipe and adapted the quantities and directions to suit slow cooking and freezing.”
There are 2 basic steps to make this:
1. Throw the beef and sauce ingredients in the slow cooker. Then let it cook on High for 3 hours, or pressure cook it for 40 minutes on High.
2. Toss in lightly cooked broccoli. Just steam or boil broccoli until it is “tender crisp” (which means the broccoli is just cooked, still bright green and crisp). I once saw a recipe where the broccoli was slow cooked with the beef. Please do not be tempted to try this! The broccoli gets overcooked to the point that it practically turns to mush and it’s horribly brown. The extra few minutes it takes to toss in freshly cooked broccoli is worth it.
“Thie entire meal can be made ahead and frozen, including the cooked rice.”
This recipe can also be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. I didn’t realise that broccoli could be frozen until I researched it for this recipe! It actually freezes really well, you just need to make sure you blanch it before freezing. So the recipe includes directions for how to make this freezer friendly as well. It worked perfectly – when I thawed and reheated it, the broccoli was perfectly cooked and bright green.
Plus the other tip is to freeze cooked rice. It’s not common knowledge, but cooked rice freezes incredibly well and it’s a standard thing to do in Asian households. All my relatives in Japan do it, and I’ve never known any different because my mother always did it.
Hope you enjoy it! Leave me a comment if you have any questions.
PS This recipe is part of my mission to consume an abnormal pile of broccoli I stockpiled because it was insanely cheap at the grocery store. Here are the other broccoli recipes I’ve shared as part of the Broccoli Consumption Mission:
- 500g / 16 oz chuck steak or other beef cut suitable for slow cooking
- 300g / 16 oz broccoli florets (about 6 cups, 1 giant broccoli or 2 medium)
- 2 tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
- 1 cup water (see note 2)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp finely sliced fresh ginger (note 1)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce (normal dark soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 4 tsp rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 dashes white pepper
- Cut the beef into thin slices against the grain (which means at 90 degrees to the direction of the fibres in the meat).
- Place beef in slow cooker.
- Mix the corn flour with the water, then add to the slow cooker.
- Add the Sauce ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Cook on HIGH for 3 hours (or pressure cook on high for 40 minutes).
- Steam or boil broccoli until "tender crisp" (just cooked, still bright green and still crisp).
- Add to beef and sauce, toss to combine. Serve over rice.
- Let the beef and sauce cool.
- Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli very briefly, then run under cold water or plunge into ice water to stop from cooking further.
- Drain broccoli, then combine with the beef and sauce.
- Place into ziplock bags or airtight containers and freeze or refrigerate.
- To cook, thaw then reheat in the microwave, covered. Be careful not to heat for too long because otherwise the broccoli will overcook.
- Serve with rice.
2. The amount of water required will vary depending on what cut of beef you use and whether your slow cooker leaks moisture. My slow cooker leaks very little steam (almost none) and 1 cup of water makes the perfect amount of sauce for this recipe. If your slow cooker leaks a bit of steam, 1 cup of water should be ok as a starting point and check it once the beef is cooked and add a touch of water if the sauce is too thick for your liking.
If your slow cooker leaks a lot of steam then you should increase the amount of water to ensure the sauce doesn't dry out during cooking. Don't worry if you end up with too much liquid at the end, you can easily reduce it by simmering on the stove.
3. I used a fairly lean cut of beef - chuck steak. And I also trimmed off the fat. If you are using a fatty slow cooking cut of beef, you could reduce the oil by half or so. I added it because the beef I was using was so lean.
4. You can also make ahead the rice. Cooked rice freezes very well. Just cook it, let it cool then wrap it in cling wrap and freeze. Then defrost and reheat (in the cling wrap) in the microwave.
The nutrition analysis will vary depending on the type of beef you use as different cuts of slow cooking beef can have very different amounts of fat. I used chuck steak and cut off the excess fat which is reflected in the nutrition analysis below.