Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole

My mates Tom and Sam, well actually Tom I think, made a casserole around at theirs one night for a few friends that was so hearty and down to earth that I instantly wanted to make it. It also had a lot of potatoes cooked with it, making it an ideal dish in my book, as you didn’t have to make anything else to go with it.   Tom gave me the recipe, and said he got it from Jamie Oliver (not directly, obviously).  Before this, the only beef casserole I had ever made was Boeuf Bourguignon, which is fantastic but not a straightforward dish.  This recipe is wonderfully simple, and while I’ve slightly adapted it from the JO recipe Tom gave me, its still easy to make.

The most important thing is to get the right cut of meat. I used to make a beef casserole with topside steak, but my favourite butcher, Sardes at Queen Vic Market, recoiled in horror when I told him I was making casserole with topside, and set me straight. Gravy beef is the best for this – it’s sinewy, and when slow cooked in a casserole for a few hours, the sinew melts and becomes gelatinous, softening the meat to the perfect texture.

This takes 2 hours to cook, and about half an hour to prepare, so don’t try and make this in a rush! The good news is it makes a great big pot full of casserole for about 6 people, and it can be frozen.

1 kilo gravy beef, sliced into chunks (ask your butcher to do this, it will save you some time)

3 tablespoons plain flour

About 800g peeled winter vegetables cut into thick chunks – I like to use potatoes, carrots, parsnip, and if they are in season, jerusalem artichokes (don’t be intimidated by these, they are wonderful and add a delicious, unique flavour). Don’t use pumpkin because it will melt too much.

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

Small handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 400 g tin diced organic tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1/2 bottle red wine

300 grams of water or stock (any stock will do, except fish)

Handful of chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Place the meat in a plastic bag, add the flour, seal and shake until all of the meat is well coated.  In a heavy, flameproof casserole dish, saute the onion in some olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and herbs and stir around for a minute.  Add the meat, coat with the onion mixture, then add the wine, tomatoes, water or stock, bay leaf, and vegetables.  Bring to the boil on the stove and immediately remove from the heat, put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 hours, checking around three times to ensure its not burning or sticking.

Note: If you have a very high quality cast iron casserole dish as I do, such as Le Creuset (thanks girls!), then drop the heat to 160 after 1 hour.  The cast iron surface conducts heat so well, it will cook at a cooler temperature, and will almost burn the casserole at 180.

Allow to cool down a little with the lid on before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve with some crusty bread if you wish.

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9 thoughts on “Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole

  1. Blair May 13, 2010 at 11:10 pm Reply

    Initial temperature?

  2. theabbotsfordkitchen May 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm Reply

    Blair – the temperature is 180 degrees. It is in the recipe between the ingredients and instructions, but for some reason, no matter how many space bars you put in between they don’t show up, so its hard to see. Happy casseroling!

  3. Ros May 14, 2010 at 8:38 am Reply

    This sounds fabulous Bec! I read your suggestion for lambshanks….and that sounds a fabulous way to get a roast without having a huge piece of meat for days after!
    Also, now having read this beef casserole recipe (thanks for the thumbs up about gravy beef…..I have always used better cuts to avoid toughness….very expensive!) I am wondering if it would work with shanks too? Also….how do you reckon your beef casserole would work out in a pressure cooker? (Thanks Bec!!!) And would using a pressure cooker make any difference to the cut of meat used? P.S. I feel you should be paid for this advice!!!!!

    • theabbotsfordkitchen May 14, 2010 at 11:12 pm Reply

      Hi Ros! To be honest I’m not sure if the lamb shanks would work as a replacement in this as the recipe is really designed around meat cut into small pieces, but I reckon give it a go and see! With the shanks – because they are bigger, I would brown them first, then add them after you’ve sauteed the onions, etc. If you do try it, let me know how it goes! I don’t have a pressure cooker so I can’t say for sure how it would go, but from my understanding of pressure cooker technology, it should work just as well. Good luck – and keep me posted! xxx

  4. Ros May 15, 2010 at 7:13 am Reply

    That makes sense….to brown the shanks first. I am off to local butcher to buy shanks this morning! Thanks Bec! xxx

  5. theabbotsfordkitchen May 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm Reply

    Ros I just had another thought – the flour coating the small pieces of meat helps the casserole to thicken, so make sure you adjust accordingly if switching to shanks. After you’ve returned the shanks to the onions etc, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over, and coat everything, before adding the wine, tomatoes etc. 🙂

  6. Ros May 15, 2010 at 1:46 pm Reply

    Thanks for the tip! I have my shanks…ad was thinking about the thickening and wondered how it wold go to put some lentils with it? P.S. I knnow what you mean about Masterchief being contrived….totally agree. But you might enjoy the Friday night program which is a masterclass and so many interesting information comes from that. We like the food aspect, once we got past the reality TV aspect of the show. Just a thought. Thank you again for this blog! It is a pleasure. xx

  7. Ros May 30, 2010 at 8:46 am Reply

    Finally had the dinner party last night and very happy to say it was the best lamb shanks I have ever done! Inspired by your “Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole”! Thank you! It must have been good because everyone (except me!) had seconds….wow!
    Here it is:
    4 lamb shanks cut through the bone
    Onions
    Garlic
    Olive oil
    Plain flour
    Sea Salt and Cracked pepper
    Stock (I used vegetable stock)
    Carrots
    Parsnip
    Baby spinach
    Red Wine
    Parsley
    Thyme
    Basil
    I rubbed the salt and pepper into the shanks before dredging them in flour and let that sit whilst I prepared the veges. And I did as you suggested and browned the shanks thoroughly before putting it all in my big scanpan baking dish and put into the (a bit less than moderate) oven for a few hours (about 145degC). I took it out and let it rest for another hour or so whilst the self-saucing chocolate fudge pudding was cooking. Then I heated it all through again whilst I was doing the sweet potatoes and potatoes which provided the mashy bed for the shanks! Can’t quite believe I pulled it off! Thanks for your help and encouragement!

  8. RandyCats May 30, 2010 at 9:52 am Reply

    Mmmmmm, double Mmmmmmmmmmmm. The juices were beautifully absorbed by Deb’s potatoes (just kidding 🙂

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