Rich and Hearty Beef Casserole

When you wake up in the morning and the world looks like this, you need something hot, substantial and nurturing on the menu for dinner.

Rich beef casserole served with vegetable bake and rosemary roast potatoes

I think you’d be hard pushed to find something more fitting to that description than this beef casserole – chunks of beef and baby button mushrooms in a meaty, onion rich gravy – real heart-cockle warming stuff.  Bear in mind, of course, it doesn’t have to be snowing in order for you to have it for dinner 😉

To get the very best from the beef this wine infused dish is cooked low and slow in the oven, allowing the meat to gently relax and get to know its fellow ingredients – it is by no means an ‘in a hurry’ recipe.  The good news is that although it takes 4 hours to cook, it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and needs to be tended only once during the cooking time (and then once more just before serving).

Ideally, it’s cooked in a pan or dish that can go from hob to oven (and back again), that way you don’t lose a scrap of flavour.  Ideal for the washing up situation too.

Rich beef casserole

To my mind all this makes it an excellent dinner for a weekend/day off: a stupendously good meal with just enough preparation and attention required that you can justifiably say you made an effort, but plenty of ‘hands off time’ in which to do weekendy/day off-ish things.

As a bonus, your house gradually fills with the drool inducing, appetite stimulating aromas of herbs and garlic and meat and wine – so good.  By the time it’s ready, believe me, so are you!

Serves 3-4 if presented with side dishes
Serves 2 if eaten with nothing but thickly buttered crusty bread

Ingredients
400g diced beef braising steak
4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, each cut into about 6 pieces (use scissors – so much easier than a knife 😉 )
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 sticks of celery, diced (if they have leaves on, chop those up and throw them in too…they’re full of flavour)
12-14 shallots, peeled
Several tablespoons of olive oil
2 beef stockpots/stock cubes
1 mini bottle (about 200ml) red wine
800ml water
2-3 heaped teaspoons cornflour, in a mug or small jug, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
200g button mushrooms, cleaned but left whole
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Music

Ok, have you got everything together and done your prep?  Let’s go then…

Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/300°F/150°C

cubed beef

With the heat reasonably high, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish or oven safe pan and brown the beef, a few pieces at a time; remove cooked pieces from the pan and set to one side.

browned shallots

If necessary add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, allow it to heat, then quickly brown your shallots and bacon.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

crushed garlic, diced onion and celery

Having cooked off some of the bacon fat it’s unlikely you’ll need more oil in the pan, but add a little if you need to and allow it to heat up.  Now add the celery, onions and garlic and cook until just starting to brown.

Return the meat to the pan.

wine and stockpots

Add the red wine and stir well, making sure you scrape any  gorgeous, caramelised brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

bay leaf and thyme

Add water, stockpots, bay leaf and thyme and bring to simmering point.

Put the lid on the pan and put it in the oven.

Set a timer for 3 hours.

after 3 hours

After 3 hours retrieve your casserole from the oven.

mushrooms

Add bacon, onions and mushrooms, and a little more water if you think it’s going to dry out too much over the next hour.  Don’t add too much though, you’ll dilute the flavours.

Put the lid back on and put the pan back in the oven.

Set a timer for 1 hour.

transfer to stove top to thicken

After 1 hour take the pan from the oven and put it back on the hob on a medium heat.  Fish out the thyme twig and the bay leaf and discard.

add cornflour

Ladle a little of the gravy into the mug containing the cornflour paste, stirring to mix well.

Pour the liquid back into your pan and cook, stirring continuously, until gravy has thickened.

Rich beef casserole with veg bake and rosemary roast potatoes

Serve with whatever you fancy…mashed potato and green beans…or tiny boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli…or baked potatoes and mange tout…or…

Shown here with rosemary roast potatoes and cheese topped vegetable bake.

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The food week that was – 09/02/15

For the past week Barn has been away from home with work, and Petit Man has been mostly absent for meals, so I’ve been left to cater for one in the evenings.

This is a situation that tends to go one of two ways.  Either,

  • I take the opportunity to indulge myself, buying things things that the guys aren’t keen on or that would be cost prohibitive when feeding three but which are affordable for one (because I’m worth it! 😉 ), OR
  • I take the line of least resistance and have a lot of open-possibly heat-eat rubbish.

This time I managed to strike a reasonable(ish) balance.

Quiche and wedges - MondayMonday: Spinach, feta and red pepper quiche, potato wedges and a green salad drizzled with a balsamic vinegar dressing.

Halloumi wraps - TuesdayTuesday: Garlic and herb flour tortilla wraps, thickly spread with guacamole and salsa, filled with green salad and perfectly grilled halloumi (crispy on the outside, squeaky on the inside), served with roasted tomatoes on the vine.

On Wednesday I ate at work.

Cheesy beans and bacon butties - ThursdayThursday: I was very tired so made bacon sandwiches and bean stretch.  Bean stretch is the happy accident that occurs when you add a cheddar/mozzarella cheese mix to your baked beans, but go a little heavy on the mozzarella.

Friday: Barn came home and I welcomed him back with a watery, insipid and flavourless vegetable lasagne.  Once again I reminded myself of the chilled ready meal pasta dish rule…DO. NOT. BUY. IT!  It was so gross we binned it and went out for fish ‘n’ chips.  Nothing got photographed.

Saturday: Tex-Mex meal for Medieval’s birthday.  That’s was deliciousness, right there!

Sunday brunch - pastries, yoghurt, banana, juicePastries for brunch - SundaySunday: I had a splendid long lie-in then woke to find Barn had stopped off on his way back from the gym to pick up Sunday brunch components.  Companionable munching ensued.

Apple and mango fruit juice, peach yoghurt with sliced banana, and a selection of pastries (custard crown, pain au chocolat and cinnamon swirl).

‘Twas a good way to start a Sunday afternoon.

x

Meat. A lot of meat.

Sunday afternoon – brunch time in the Renegade household – with mixed grill on the menu.

Mixed grill againFrom the top: pork sausage (burned at one end because the packet got squashed in transit and the innards had mushed out!), a tiny piece of venison steak trimmed from Petit Man’s much larger one, grilled field mushroom , grilled vine tomato, beef fillet steak, thick cut bacon, and in the centre, a fine lamb chop.

Eaten with great dollops of sauces, this was delicious.  Shame we forgot the onion rings.  Never mind, next time…

x

A family that likes to brunch

Continuing the treats for Big Sis’s birthday weekend, on the Sunday we went out to one of our favourite local eateries for brunch.  Can’t fault the place –  fabulous food, excellent service, great ambiance, and all within ambling distance of home.

After much dithering I ordered the corned beef hash…with a bacon sandwich on the side. Freshly squeezed orange juice and copious cups of tea completed the delicious meal.

20140504_114559

Salt beef with grated potatoes and parsley, served with an egg on top, crispy bacon on the side and a puddle of yummy but not identified sauce.20140504_114750Slabs of bacon, crispy round the edges, liberally sauced with good ol’ HP and presented between thick slices of soft, freshly baked bread.  Now THAT is what you call a bacon butty!

20140504_114530Heaven help me, how did I become part of an Instagram family?!

Medieval despairs as we all delay eating by whipping out our cameras.  A full English awaits his ministrations.

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