Thai Red Beef Curry is packed full of flavour, and so easy to make in the slow cooker. My version is crammed with vegetables, so really only needs some steamed rice to accompany it. Double the recipe, stash the extras in the freezer, and you have a delicious meal in reserve.
Total Time Investment: 8 Hours 20 minutes
I have a love/hate relationship with my slow cooker. Some days, thanks to The Princess’s after school activities, we arrive home right on dinner time. Without the slow cooker we would eat quite late, no matter how prepared I try to be before we go out. With the slow cooker, I can throw dinner together in the morning and have something ready for when we walk in the door. This I love. What I hate is that most slow cooker recipes seem bland and unappetising to me, as if the flavour has cooked out over time. Whilst this is probably a reflection of my recipe selection or my ability to use the appliance properly, it can make for a dull meal.
Over the years I have bought different recipe books to help me make the most of my slow cooker. Some of the recipes have been successful, but many more have been average at best. This winter, however, I uncovered a copy of Sara Lewis’s Ultimate Slow Cooker: Over 100 simple, delicious recipes that I had obviously used once or twice then forgotten about. This is not your standard slow cooker book. With great variety in the recipes, and not a tin of condensed soup in sight, I have found it invaluable for delivering a tasty meal on a busy night. Every dish I have cooked has been simple to make, full of flavour and delicious to eat.
I have been working my way diligently through the book, with my favourite dishes being the curries. Curries seem to hold their flavour well during the slow cooking process, and as they freeze well I often double the recipe. This means that I have a few emergency meals stashed in the freezer for those days I don’t quite manage to get the slow cooker on.
The majority of curries I make have an Indian bent, but I’m on a bit of a Thai curry kick at the moment. Maybe it is the advent of spring. Years ago I completed three months of evening Thai cooking classes. Once a week we would meet at the local college and pair up to cook a delicious feast for our dinner. I cooked Thai food for a while afterward but then found myself distracted by other cuisines. After not cooking Thai food for long time I find myself drawn to it again of late.
This Thai red beef curry has appeared a few times this winter, and I am never disappointed with it. I tone down the curry paste to reduce the complaints from The Princess. This doesn’t stop her from eating it with half a jar of yoghurt, but at least it gets eaten. If you don’t have someone whining about a little bit of heat then add more curry paste. I add vegetables to the dish to make it a complete meal, but you could stir fry some greens to serve alongside the dish if you prefer. Either way, it is great to come home and know that dinner is ready. Maybe I no longer hate my slow cooker after all.Fill up your #slowcooker with this sensational #Thai Red #Beef #Curry #freezer Click To Tweet
Whilst I have tried it myself, I do think you could successfully use chicken in place of the beef in this curry.
Not a fan of eggplant? Use your preferred vegetables instead. Try onions or capsicum (peppers) cut into cubes, or use chunks of sweet potato. Replace the green beans with frozen peas, which need only be dropped into the sauce at the last minute to defrost and heat through.
I have not tried other curry pastes, but see no reason why a green curry paste would not work just as well. You could also turn this into an Indian dish by using your favourite Indian curry paste, although if you were to go this route I would omit the kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce.
Normal white granulated sugar can be used in place of the coconut sugar.
You can, in a pinch, use soy sauce in place of the fish sauce. The purpose of the fish sauce is to add salt to the dish, which soy sauce would also do. Just be aware that the flavour is different, so only try this if you don’t have fish sauce on hand or won’t use it for anything else.
There is no real substitute for kaffir limes leaves. The curry will be perfectly fine without them, but if you stumble across them at some point, stock up and freeze them so you always have some to drop into dishes.
Tips & Tricks For The Best Slow Cooker Thai Red Beef Curry
Choose a good stewing/braising beef for this red beef curry. You want something that can withstand the long cooking time, and not become dry and tasteless. My preferred cut is chuck steak or braising steak, although this will obviously be called different things depending on where in the world you live. My advice is to have a chat to your butcher to see what they would recommend.
I prefer to brown the beef and eggplant prior to placing it in the slow cooker. I think this adds to the flavour of the final dish, and is the method I have given in the recipe below. However, if you are short on time, add the beef and vegetables straight into the slow cooker, mix together the liquid ingredients, pour them over the beef, then cook as usual.
Not all curry pastes are created equal. Some hold up better to the long cooking time than others. Make sure you use a good quality curry paste to ensure the final dish retains its flavour. I use, and recommend, the Maesri Red Curry Paste for this dish.
Add more curry paste to the dish if you have a higher tolerance to heat. I find the amount I use is suitable for The Princess.
I like to blanch the beans and add them right at the end as I like the beans to retain a little crunch in the finished dish. If you don’t mind soft beans, add them at the start of the cooking time.
When you assemble the dish, it will seem like there is not enough liquid in the crock pot. This is how it should look, so do not be tempted to add additional liquid. As the curry cooks, the juices from the beef and the vegetables will mingle with the coconut milk to form a delicious thick curry sauce.
This recipe is suitable for a standard size slow cooker or crock pot, and I find it fills my 4.5L slow cooker perfectly.
My red beef curry freezes extremely well, so is the ideal dish to double for an extra meal. Just allow the extras to cool in the fridge overnight before transferring them to the freezer. And don’t forget to label it.
Slow Cooker Thai Red Beef Curry
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 700 g (1 1/2 lbs) braising/stewing beef cut into 2cm pieces
- 3 small (approx. 3 cups) eggplants cut into chunks
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons red Thai curry paste
- 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 5 leaves kaffir lime
- 200 g (2 cups) green beans cut into 1cm lengths
Turn the slow cooker to low to warm whilst you are preparing the ingredients.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large fry pan over a medium heat.
Brown the beef a few pieces at a time. As the pieces brown, place them into the slow cooker.
Heat the remainder of the coconut oil and brown the eggplant pieces in the same manner. Add these to the beef in the slow cooker.
Add the curry paste to the hot fry pan and fry for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar to the fry pan and bring the sauce just to the boil.
Tip all of the sauce into the slow cooker, scraping the fry pan well.
Stir everything well to ensure that the beef and eggplant are coated in the sauce.
Tuck the kaffir lime leaves under the beef.
Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours or until the meat is tender.
Just before serving, bring a small pot of water to the boil and add the beans.
Boil the beans for 2-3 minutes, or until they are tender.
Drain the beans and gently stir them into the curry.
Serve immediately with steamed rice.
I only use 1 Tablespoon of curry paste when making this dish as my preferred paste is quite spicy. Judge the amount you require on how spicy your paste is.
Substitute any vegetables you like if eggplant and beans aren't your thing. The eggplant will cook right down into the sauce though so you won't notice it. You can substitute 1/2 cup of peas for the beans if you would prefer.
P.S. Looking to make the most of your slow cooker? Don’t forget to check out my 7 Tips for Great Tasting Slow Cooker Meals.