Monday, 26 September 2011

Beef Casserole

You are going to think me mad, but I look forward to winter, not because of the weather, but because of the food. I love slowed cooked food like casseroles and stews which are wonderfully warming and homely, just what is need on those cold dark nights. I also use it for as an excuse to stuff my face, as you need to “stock up” for winter. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

So with winter fast approaching, it's only 12 weeks until Christmas (groan), I made my first cassserole I needed to get some practice in before the real nasty weather arrives. I've made this recipe so often I now just throw things in. I have a standard list of ingredients and over the years I've added some other winter vegetables to add a different dimension which make a nice change

Standard ingredients
1tbls flour
salt and pepper (seasoning)
400g Beef (cheapest cut as it get cooked for hours)
Bag of shallots peeled (small ones left whole large ones cut in half)
½ bottle of red wine (I bought a whole bottle and glugged what was left whilst cooking)
2 carrots sliced
4 celery sliced
250g button mushrooms
500ml beef stock
3 bay leaves
1 tbls mixed herbs
(serves 4-6)

Sometimes the stock is not thick enough, so you can make a roux to help thicken it. To do this just melt 20g butter in pan, add 20g plain flour and mix together on the heat for about 3-4 minutes. Then stir into the casserole and this will thicken it.

Optional
potatoes
swede
parsnips
celeriac
sweet potato

Pre-heat the over to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5
Season the flour with salt and pepper, cut up the beef and mix up in the flour mixture.

Add the oil to heat proof casserole dish and bring to high heat, then add the beef (a few pieces at a time) and move around until brown and then remove. Do this until you have completely browned all the beef.

Turn down the heat and add the shallots and cook for a few minutes, then add carrots, celery and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring often.

Then add the beef, mix together and then add the wine. Stir together ensuring you are rubbing the bottom on the dish, so that you mix the “burnt” parts stuck to the bottom, which enshance the flavour.

Add the stock and mushrooms, herbs and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Then place in oven, for 30 mintues and then lower to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1 and cook for a minimum of 2 hours. Ensuring you check from time to time and stir to ensure it doesn't stick, if needed add more water and seasoning .As with most of my dishes the longer you cook it the better.

As I said earlier I have cooked this recipe a lot of times, but for some unknown reason I didn't enjoy it. My partner loved it, but for me something was wrong. I used new potatoes this time, but for me it didn't work. The carrots and mushrooms didn't have the usual full flavour, just as well this was a practice run. Please don't let this put you off, as it is a great recipe.

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