Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Winter Casserole

Oh dear - I've been neglecting the lovely blog! Forgive me ... what can I say or do, but merely plead Christmas madness and mayhem?

Anyhow, this evening I decided to finally try this recipe I've been thinking about for a while (I need to build up to these things). I wanted a wintery casserole, and a trawl of the excellently comprehensive BBC Food website left me inundated with choice. I finally chose this Rachel Allen recipe (A) because I've tried several of her recipes in the past and had a good result and (B) this one sounded like it had more of a beef bourguignon vibe and less of a straight forward stew, so that appealed to me too. Oh, and (C) it did not call for beef suet to make dumplings. (Sometimes the BBC is quite English, after all!).

The recipe suggested "stewing steak" but the local Tesco Express was ill-equipped to deal with such a request. The braising steak was already pre-diced, and I am not so keen on that - I like to be able to trim the meat as I go, and to decide the size of chunks I want and so on. So I bought a "round steak". I don't know too much about various cuts of beef but I know this is one that does need longer cooking but isn't as tough as what they call "chump steak" in the UK. So I decided to risk it - if it's not perfect, I can make notes for future reference.

Tesco Express also couldn't provide baby onions (in fairness, I wasn't expecting to find them in such a small branch) so I fished the smallest onions out of a bag and quartered them. I also added a few mushrooms - because I'd bought a punnet of posh looking "Tesco finest forrestiere mushrooms" and obviously had to try!

Anyhow, here's the recipe I used, including my own amendments in brackets - to start with, I was only cooking for two.

The weather might not be quite as wintery as such a dish demands, but it is dark and gloomy out there...


  • 1½kg/3lb 5oz stewing beef, cut into cubes (as I say, I used round steak, a little over 500g)
  • 175g/6oz streaky bacon (half a single pack of Lidl bacon bits - about 80g)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 baby onions, peeled (3 small onions, quartered)
  • 18 button mushrooms, left whole (shows how well I read this recipe, I thought the mushrooms were my addition! Mine were a bit bigger, so I sliced them finely)
  • carrots, cut into quarters or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and left whole (I used 2 carrots, chopped roughly in 3 and then those pieces quartered)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed and grated (I used 3 enormously huge cloves, diced as small as I could)
  • 425ml/15fl oz red wine (I used about 10fl oz red wine)
  • 425ml/15fl oz chicken or beef stock
For the roux
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 50g/1¾oz flour
  • Champ potatoes, to serve (I used just regular boiled potatoes - it's only Tuesday, after all)

Preparation method

  1. Brown the beef and bacon in the olive oil in a hot casserole or heavy saucepan
  2. Remove the meat and toss in the onions, mushrooms and carrots, one ingredient at a time, seasoning each time
  3. Place these back in the casserole, along with the herbs and garlic
  4. Cover with red wine and stock and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked
  5. To make the roux, in a separate pan melt the butter, add the flour and cook for two minutes (I did this in advance and let it cool in the fridge, as I was once told this was "the thing" to do. I don't think it matters)
  6. When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables
  7. Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tbsp of roux
  8. Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened, allowing to boil
  9. Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with champ

Not necessarily the most beautiful photo I've ever taken - but I was in a hurry to taste it

Enjoy the winter; and enjoy experimenting with some winter casseroles - whatever tickles your fancy (this really really worked for me).

Sarah xx

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