Issue 5 / Winter 2008
let it simmer â€“ beef casserole
Delicious, nutritious and easy to make, Pop in the oven and leave it to bake
Put on a casserole, anybody can do it The key to a great beef casserole is simple, choose the right beef cut and give it some time to slowly cook. The time part may scare you off, don’t let it – the only part that takes time is the cooking. Preparing a casserole is quick and easy, the oven, the cooktop or the slow cooker takes over from there. It’s the less expensive cuts of meat that perform the best. Chuck and Boneless shin/Gravy beef will deliver great flavour and tenderness. Topside, Round and Blade are good choices if time is of the essence as they cook more quickly. Turning an inexpensive cut of meat into a warming, nourishing and flavourful meal can be done in just a couple of hours. Don’t rush the initial stage of browning the meat, it’s important to brown it in small batches to maximise colour and flavour. Follow our tips and hints on the following pages to make your beef casseroles even better. For more ideas visit www.themainmeal.com.au
Beef casseroles what makes the difference Matching the beef cut to the cooking time you have available is the most important consideration Consider the time you have and pick the appropriate beef cut – choose from Chuck, Boneless shin/Gravy beef – these cuts take about 2 – 2½ hours to cook. These cuts offer the richest flavour and the most succulent meat, but they do need long, slow cooking to make them tender. Beef Topside, Blade and Round need only 1 – 1½ hours of slow simmering to reach their best tenderness, keep in mind though, they can be tough or chewy to taste if not cooked long enough. Cut the meat into 2.5cm – 3cm cubes (or ask the butcher to do this), cut any smaller, the cubes of meat will shrink as they cook. Keeping the cubes of meat at the same size will give you consistency in texture and flavour.
Don’t rush the initial stage of browning the meat
* Importa nt *
Brown the meat in small batches (about 200g each batch). Keep the pan at medium-high heat as you cook. You don’t want the beef to stew in its own juices – this happens if the pan is not hot enough or if you try to cook too much meat at once – you’ll get tough dry meat that lacks flavour. The pan needs to be hot enough for the meat to sizzle but not so hot that it scorches and burns portions of the meat or results in a blackened pan. This will give a burnt taste to the casserole.
Simmer the casserole gently and taste it to see if it’s ready The gentle heat of simmering is used to draw the full flavour out of foods. A slow simmer is when small amounts of tiny bubbles rise to the surface of the cooking liquid. To judge if your casserole is ready simply taste it – the sauce should be rich in flavour and slightly thickened. Whatever the suggested cut of beef, the meat should be tender enough to flake or fall apart easily with a fork. If it’s not done put it back in the oven or on the cooktop and simmer for another 15 minutes or so before tasting again.
Beef ca ss eroles – your options for cuts and timing Be ef cut s (cut beef into 2 .5cm – 3 cm cub es)
App rox ima te coo kin g tim e
Gu ide to coo kin g tem peratu res
Chu ck or Boneless shin / Gravy beef
2 – 2 .5 hours
160°C – 180°C
Topsid e, Ro und, Bla de
1 – 1.5 hours
160°C – 180°C
The se tem peratu res an d tim es ca n only be a gui de, the differe nt bee f cut s an d the typ e of dis h the y ar e coo ked in will giv e va ria nce s of tim ing an d don ene ss. The ove n tem peratu re gen era lly sta rts at 18 0°C but if the ca sse rol e is coo kin g too qui ckl y it sho uld be low ere d to ab out 16 0°C. 3
The Master Recipe The simplest yet best beef casserole Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 – 1½ hours or 2 – 2½ hours Serves: 4 – 6
Beef (see page 3 for options re: cuts and timing) 1kg beef
Vegetables 1 large onion, halved and sliced 2 medium carrots, thickly sliced
Flavour Base 2 tbsp plain flour 3 cups beef stock* a good shake each of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce* 4 – 5 sprigs fresh thyme 2 bay leaves (optional) 1. P repare the beef: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut beef into 2.5cm – 3cm cubes. Season with salt and pepper, and add about 2 tablespoons of oil to beef, mix well. Heat a large frypan over a medium-high heat. Brown the beef in two or three batches. Remove each batch and place it in a casserole dish. 2. A dd the vegetables: Reduce heat in pan and add a little extra oil, add the vegetables and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, stir occasionally. 3. Adding the flavour base: Sprinkle in the flour or other seasoning and stir until the vegetables are coated. Gradually pour in the stock or other liquid, stirring well. Add the remaining flavour base ingredients, stirring until the mixture boils. Pour over the beef in the casserole dish and stir to combine. Cover the casserole dish, place in oven, and cook until the beef is very tender. Stir every 40 minutes or so, add water if needed to keep the ingredients just covered. Cooktop method: Place the browned beef and other ingredients in a heavy-based pot. Partially cover, keep the heat low. Simmer until the meat is very tender. Stir occasionally, add water if needed during the cooking time to keep ingredients well covered. Serve with mashed potato and cabbage (see front cover). *Salt reduced 4
s a e d i h c t a Mi x a n d stemr re cip e a n d s im ply
n the m a n ts yo u c a e i d By u si ng e r g n i f t ry a c o u p le o s w it c h i n g s s e ro le s a c s u o i . c h e r d e li fe e l fo r it a t e g c r e a te o t n o o ’l l s s a n d yo u th es e i d e a
Family style Mexican ‘beef ‘n beans’ casserole Beef (see page 3 for options re: cuts and timing) 1kg beef
Vegetables 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
Flavour Base 35g pkt taco seasoning mix 2½ cups beef stock 400g can diced tomatoes
Add (in the last 30 minutes cooking time) 400g can kidney beans, drained
Dad’s Sunday casserole… ‘beef with beer’ Beef (see page 3 for options re: cuts and timing) 1kg beef
Vegetables 6 whole baby onions, peeled 2 cloves garlic, peeled
Flavour Base 2 tbsp plain flour 2½ cups beef stock a good shake each of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce 375g bottle of ale/beer or a 440g can of Guinness 2 tbsp brown sugar
Mild, creamy beef curry Beef (see page 3 for options re: cuts and timing) 1kg beef
Vegetables 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed
Flavour Base 2 tbsp mild curry powder ¼ cup apricot jam (or 2 tbsp brown sugar) 2½ cups beef stock 400ml can coconut milk 5
Making casseroles easier – here are the answers Pick of the pans and casserole dishes! Which type should I use?
re e h s p i t d o o G *
The ideal pan is heavy-based. A mid-sized enameled cast-iron saucepan is a good all-round choice, as it is great for the cooktop as well as for use in the oven. Good sizes are the 1½, 2 and 3 litre saucepans. But like most things, the best quality doesn’t come cheaply, look out for sales where they can often be bought at bargain prices. A simple casserole dish will work just as well, just brown the meat in your frypan or wok and transfer it to the casserole dish with the other ingredients. Affordable and practical casserole dishes include ceramic stoneware (like CorningWare®) glass (like Pyrex®) and glazed ceramic/pottery (like Bendigo Pottery casserole pots).
Can I cook my casserole on the cooktop rather than in the oven? A casserole is similar to a stew, it calls for the same cuts and technique but traditionally it’s cooked in a covered casserole dish in the oven at a moderate 180°C to moderately low heat 160°C rather than on the cooktop. But that’s not to say you can’t – you’ll just need to pay a little more attention to it. The mixture can sometimes stick to the base of the pan and burn in a regular type saucepan, as it’s difficult to get the temperature of some cooktops as low as needed. Adding more liquid (stock or water) to the casserole mixture at the start of the cooking time and adding a little more as it cooks can offset this. Stir it often. Adjust the heat as the dish cooks. A ‘simmer’ that’s closer to a boil with result in tough meat.
Other casserole recipes tell me to dust the meat with flour – why? Casserole recipes may vary and yes some recipes call for the meat to be dusted with seasoned flour before browning. This creates a browned crust on the meat and thickens the liquid as the casserole cooks. We found the easier option is to add the flour when you sauté the onions and vegetables.
C a s s e ro le a he a d...m a k e it S u n da y e n j o y it M o n da y o r Tu e s da y n ig ht ! A ca ss erol e wi ll ke ep fo r up to 2 to 3 da ys in th e re frig erat or. Ca ss erol es sh ou ld be re frig erat ed im me di at ely afte r th e st ea m fr co okin g ha s ev ap orat om ed . Pl a ce th e ho t ca ss erol e in to a sh al lo w co nt ai ne r in th e frid ge so it co ol s qu ic kly. Do no t le av e it to co ol co mp le te ly on th e be nc h. To se rv e, brin g it sl ow ly to th e bo il ov er me di um he at , re du ce he an d si mm er fo r ab ou at t 3 mi nu te s, or un til me at an d sa uc e ar e bo th th orou gh ly ho t.
Mild, creamy beef curry â€“ see page 5
40 0 3 e Th ion t p o e t thi s u min s s e ro le , t ru e ca a
a ve t s t ri ct ly g w i ll h a n i k o o c Wh i le n o le o f ro u n d a i s e st y b le i n a a t e h t q ui ck b r al on a rty m e e h m r a w m i n ute s . 30 - 40
The qui ck on e A quick beef, tomato and mushroom braise Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes Serves: 4 – 6 1kg Round or Topside steak 2 tbsp oil a little extra oil 1 onion, cut into thin wedges 2 cloves garlic, crushed 250g button mushrooms, halved 500g jar of bottled tomato pasta sauce 2 tbsp tomato paste 1 cup beef stock a pinch of sugar large pasta shells (cooked) to serve basil leaves 1. Cut the steaks across the grain into strips (about 1.5cm wide). Season with salt and pepper. Add oil to the beef strips, mix well. 2. Heat a wok or frypan, ensure it is hot. Stir-fry the beef in three batches, remove each batch and place it in a casserole dish. Add a little oil to pan, add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes or until mushrooms are golden. Add the tomato pasta sauce, tomato paste, stock and sugar,
Ti p s fo r yo ur 4 0 m i n ut e c a s s e ro l e - M a k
e s u r e th e m e a t is trim m ed of a s v is ib le s ilv m u ch e r s kin a s p o s s ib le . - B ro w n th e m e a t in s m a ll b a tc h e s s ti r - fr y. E n a s yo u d o a s u r e th e p a n is h o t w h e n th e m e a t, it yo u a d d s h o u ld s iz z le w h e n it g o e s in . - M a k e s u r e th e c a s s e ro le s im m e c o o k s – it m rs a s it u st n o t b e a ll o w e d to b o il o th e r e s u lt w r il l b e to u g h, c h e w y m e a t.
stir until the mixture boils. Pour over the beef in the casserole dish and stir to combine. 3. Cover the casserole dish, place in oven, cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until the beef is tender. Serve with the cooked pasta and sprinkle with basil leaves.
Take it easy... let the slow cooker take over Low heat cooking means you can be out of the kitchen (or the house) from 4 up to 10 hours with these great kitchen appliances.
Slow cooking – the timing's up to you! The High and Low settings on the slow cooker mean you have the option to cook the casserole in around 4 – 5 hours or the longer option of 8 – 10 hours. Little or no stirring is required when using the Low setting, however, stirring the casserole occasionally when using the High setting gives good flavour distribution.
Italian beef stew Note – this recipe is designed for a large slow cooker, one of about a 5-Litre capacity. It can be halved for smaller slow cookers. Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 4 – 5 hours or 8 – 10 hours Serves: 8 – 10 2.5kg beef (see page 3 for options re: cuts) 3 – 4 tbsp oil
pepper. Add oil to the beef, mix well. Heat a large frypan
a little extra oil
over a medium high heat. Brown the beef in 4 batches.
2 large onions, chopped
Remove each batch and place it in the slow cooker.
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2. Reduce heat in pan and add a little oil, add the onion
1 red capsicum, thickly sliced
and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add the capsicums and
1 green capsicum, thickly sliced
cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until the
4 tbsp plain flour
vegetables are coated with the flour and it begins to turn
1 cup white wine
golden. Pour in the wine and stock, stirring until mixture
2½ cups beef stock
boils. Pour over the beef in the slow cooker. Add the
700ml bottle tomato pasta sauce
combined pasta sauce and tomato paste. Add the olives
½ cup tomato paste 1 cup black olives
1. Cut beef into 2.5cm – 3cm cubes. Season with salt and
and herbs. Stir to mix. 3. Cover the slow cooker with its lid, cook on Low setting
a few sprigs each of oregano and rosemary
for 8 – 10 hours or the High setting for 4 – 5 hours.
pasta and green vegetables like broccolini to serve
Serve with pasta and broccolini.
Ta k e t h e t i m e t o b ro w n th e m e at B ro w ni ng th e m e a t be fo re co o ki ng j u st a s yo u do fo r re g u la r ca ss e ro le re ci pe s in te ns ifie s th e fl a vo u r o f yo u r sl o w co o k e d be e f ca ss e ro le .
Adapting cooking times from regular casserole recipes Your favourite traditional recipes can be easily cooked in a slow cooker. The most important rule is that you ensure the food and/or liquid fills at least half to three quarters of the removable crockery bowl that sits in the slow cooker. Smaller slow cooker models will generally take a regular recipe designed for 4 to 6 people. Cooking in the larger slow cookers will mean that you may need to double the ingredients for the recipe. And that’s an advantage in itself – you’ll have one meal to enjoy now and one for later! 11
“L i k e t o k n ow the s e c ret i n g beef ca ss re d i e n t to e ro l e? Ti m a g re a t e . Ye p, ti m n e e d s …l e t e , giv e it t h e it s i m m e r ti m e i t - o n ly a c s i m m e ri n g o uple o f h wi ll giv e y o u rs s l o w o u t h e ri c th e m ost s h e s t fl a v o u r u c c u l e n t, te n d e r m e and a s th at r a t . It ’s a e a l ly” s simple Fo r m o r e d e li ci o u s re ci p e s , c c o n ta ct u o o ki n g t i p s v i s it w w s a n d to w.t h e m a i n m e a l. c o m .a u
Delicious, nutritious and easy to make. Pop in the oven and leave it to bake.