Slow Cooker Pho

by Gwen on August 7, 2011 · 9 comments

Ok, so depending on your tastes, this may not be ideal for the summertime, but thanks to my hectic work schedule this poor recipe has been sitting around for about 4 months waiting to be posted.  Nevertheless, it’s something I absolutely couldn’t wait any longer to share with you.  Vietnamese isn’t the most familiar cuisine, in fact it was something I had never eaten before moving to Los Angeles, but I was immediately taken by it.  Like most asian cuisines, there are complex, deep and clean flavors.  But where it differs is its bright use of fresh herbs and crisp raw vegetables, making it amongst the lightest and freshest of the region.

By far the most famous Vietnamese dish is pho, a lovely noodle soup with a deep beef broth topped with handfuls of  bright herbs.  So you can imagine my delight stumbling across a recipe to make this beautiful soup in my crockpot while I’m at work!

Slow Cooker Pho
Serves 6 – 8

2 sweet onions, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups boxed chicken stock
4 cups boxed beef stock
2 cups water
1/4 fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sugar
2 stalks lemon grass, brusied with the back of a knife
4 star anise pods
4 whole cloves
2 lbs beef blade steak
Salt and pepper
8 oz fine rice noodles
1/2 lb beef tenderloin, sliced paper thin  (optional)

Garnishes:
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup Thai basil (or regular basil) torn by hand
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions sliced thin on a bias
Lime wedges
1 fresh Thai, serrano, or jalepeno, seeded and stemmed and sliced paper thin
1/2 sweet onion, sliced paper thin
Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha sauce

The night before, in a medium skillet, saute the onion over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes.  Add in the garlic and continue to cook until the onions are softened and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes more.  Transfer contents to the insert of your crockpot.  Stir chicken broth, beef broth, water, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and lemon grass.  Secure star anise and cloves in either a small cheesecloth pouch or teabag and add to the soup.  If you have difficulty finding the whole spices, you can substitute with 3/4 tsp each of ground or 1.5 tsp of chinese five spice seasoning.  Season the blade steaks with salt and pepper and nestle it down into the broth.  Cover the pot and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning before you head out the door, place your insert directly from the fridge into the crockpot and set to cook on low for 9-11 hours or on high for 5-7.

When you return home, move the beef tenderloin into the freezer for 15 minutes.  This will help firm it up for slicing.  Meanwhile, pull the meat out of the crockpot and place on a cutting board and when cooled slightly, shred gently.

Strain and skim the fat off the broth and return it to the crockpot, discarding lemongrass and spice pouch.  Stir in noodles and cook on high for 20 minutes.  Now’s a great time to prep your garnishes.

Also while the noodles are cooking, slice the beef paper thin.  When noodles are finished, stir in the shredded beef and dish out into serving bowls.

Top the hot soup with the paper thin slices of beef tenderloin.  They will poach very gently, cooking just slightly in the hot broth, offering a completely different and authentic texture to compliment the slow braised shredded beef.  This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really encourage the you to try it!

Throw on your favorite herbs and toppings and swirl in hoisin and sriracha and a spritz of lime to flavor the broth exactly to your tastes.

Ahhhmazing!

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