Monday, June 18, 2007

Eating In: Beef and Vege Casserole

As a treat for myself today I decided to make something that I normally wouldn't - purely because of the time involved. But I've had a hankering for weeks that has gone un-indulged: a good, old-fashioned casserole. So, with a lot of time on my hands today I figured I'd go and make it.

This is a pretty simple version, but absolutely packed choc-a-block full of rich flavour. What you can't see in the pic above is that underneath the casserole I've thrown some frozen vege and a little mashed potato. And I tell you, I'm REALLY looking forward to having some of this as leftovers for breakfast on top of freshly toasted multigrain bread. It was so good, I ended up burning my mouth as I was too eager to eat!

Rich Beef and Vege Casserole with Red Wine - takes over 2 hours from beginning to end, so don't attempt this beast if you don't have the time!

2 tbl olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced (I substituted a leek for a slightly different flavour)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
750g good quality chuck or blade steak, cubed (see a butcher, not a supermarket)
30g butter
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cups good quality red wine (if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it)
1 cup beef stock (don't use stock cubes, buy or make actual stock)
1 cup water
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 potatoes, approx 2cm x 2cm cubed
2 carrots, cubed
2 sticks celery, chopped (I HATE celery, so omitted this)
1 tbl chopped rosemary
150g button mushrooms, halved (again, I HATE fungus, so left these out)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Heat half the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium. Saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until golden and tender, then transfer to a large casserole dish (and I do mean LARGE).
Heat the remaining oil in the same saucepan. Cook the beef in batches, a few minutes, until well browned. Add to the onions in the dish.
Melt the butter in the same saucepan. Add the flour. Cook, stirring, for a minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Gradually stir in the combined wine, stock, water and paste, then return the pan to the heat. Cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, then simmer for a few minutes.
Add potatoes, carrots, celery and rosemary to the casserole dish. Pour the hot sauce over top. Bake, covered, for an hour.
Mix through the mushrooms, then bake, uncovered, for another 45-60 minutes until the beef is tender. Stir through the parsley.

I tell you, the meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender. It's just fabulous. And only requires two pans to prepare! As I mentioned, in the bottom of my bowl I put some (cooked) frozen peas, corn, cauliflower and broccoli, and a little creamy mashed potato, then stirred it through the casserole after taking the picture. Mmm, bliss.

Of course, if you'd like this on a workday there's nothing to stop you throwing all the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning, setting it to "Auto", and coming home to a beautiful meal in the evening. Coming into winter I'm sure I'll be doing this on occasion.

So it was definitely a very happy birthday for me!

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