Friday, 25 January 2013

Paprika Beef Casserole

Being a typical Englishman, I watch the weather in the UK, even though I’m in Dubai, but hey that is what we do. I saw that the UK was suffering from a lot of snow and as usual, the country comes to a grinding halt. I don't know if it was jealousy or was it home sickness, but I really wanted to be there. Dubai is nearly always lovely and sunny, but I've been brought up with contrasting seasons, not just sunny with cooler temperatures. There is nothing like sitting in a warm house, with a beautiful white garden eating with friends a tasty slow cooked casserole. I guess I could just be romanticising because I'm not suffering the delayed public transport, the bitter cold winds and the grey nasty slush as the snow melts. So to commiserate with my UK colleagues I made a slow cooked beef casserole and shared it with some UK friends, who are also in Dubai, so that we could reminisce and chat about the weather as only people from the UK can do – for hours :-)

To make this meal as English as possible I was also serving mashed potatoes with lashing of butter, with those vile miniature cabbage like veggies – you know which ones I mean – Brussels sprouts. Why have them if you don't like I can hear you say, I am having friends over and they love them, so it would be unfair if I didn't serve them just because I am not a fan, although I can eat a few of them.

I cooked this the night before as I wanted the flavours of the paprika to really have as much time as possible to enhance the flavour of the beef. Also it would help the beef to break down the tough tissues to make it as tender as possible. I cooked the casserole for over 6 hours in two sittings, but you really don't have to cook it that long. 2 hours is fine, but trust me though it does taste better the longer you cook it, as my friends agreed.

  • 500g stewing beef
  • 2 tbsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g white beans
  • 500g beef stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4

Take the stewing beef and mix in the paprika until it's covers all the beef

Take a heat resistant casserole dish and add the oil and bring to the high heat

Add a little of the beef at a time to brown. Once browned, remove and add some more beef. Repeat until all the beef has been browned.

Turn down the heat and add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft. Stirring occasionally to stop them from burning.

Add the beef and tinned tomatoes and stir altogether, trying to remove any bits stuck at the bottom of casserole dish.

Then add and stir in the tomato purée, white beans, beef stock, bay leaves. Do not add seasoning yet.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about an hour. Take the casserole dish out of the oven, turn down the heat to 150c/300f/gas 2

Stir the casserole and taste, then add any salt and pepper you require.

Cook for a minimum of 1 hour, but as I said earlier, the longer the better.

If the casserole looks like it's drying out, add more water.

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