30 July 2009

Beef casserole

It's cold outside, just right for a warming winter casserole. Ever since I read the wonderful Nourishing Traditions book, we've gone back to eating a bit of meat. That meat is always local, grass fed and free range - never grain fed or feed lot cattle. If that was the only meat we could buy, we wouldn't eat meat. We choose to eat meat on the bone and let the long slow cooking melt the ligaments, giving us a good helping of nourishing natural gelatine, enzymes and minerals. Gelatine is good for our joints and when you start to age, you need all the help you can get. We also eat the marrow from the bones, it's highly nutritious and delicious.

This recipe uses local grass fed, free-range shin beef and will serve us at least two, maybe three meals - depending on how big the bone is.

  • About 1kg or 2 pounds of shin beef
  • ½ cup plain/all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • water

Mix the flour, salt, pepper and paprika together and coat the meat with it. Place some oil in a fry pan and brown the meat. Take your time doing this as it will be the part of the cooking that makes the most difference to the final meal. Slowly browning the meat allows the sugars to caramelise, which will give you good flavour and a nice brown colour in the meal. Remember, we're not adding any soups, sauces or other additives to provide flavour and appeal - browning the meat naturally and long slow cooking will do that.

When you're happy with the meat, transfer it to an oven-proof casserole dish. I use a cast iron pot with a lid.

Add the vegetables to the fry pan and slightly brown them as well. When you've developed a bit of colour, transfer them to the pot on top of the meat.

Pour over enough water to just cover the meat. Stir the meat and vegetables to mix well. Put the lid on, put it in the oven for 15 minutes on 200C/390F and turn the heat down to 150C/300F.

What you're hoping for is meat that will fall from the bone when it's cooked. Test the meat with a fork when two hours is up, you might need to leave it in for another 15 minutes - depending on the tenderness of the beef when you started.

This meal could also be cooked in a slow cooker to be ready when you come home from work.

Serve with herb dumplings or boiled potato, along with red cabbage, green beans or chard/silverbeet.

  • 2 cups of self raising flour OR 2 cups of plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder added.
  • salt and pepper
  • Rub into the flour about two tablespoons of softish butter. Rub the butter in with your finger tips, just like you would when making scones (or biscuits in the US), until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Chopped parsley or chives
  • Add enough water to make a firm dough.
Forms small balls and drop them into the casserole. They will take about 15 minutes to cook so if you're going to add them, do so 20 minutes before the end of your casserole cooking time.

Welcome to all the new readers that have arrived over the past couple of weeks. It never fails to amaze me that new people keep coming. I hope you have a lovely weekend with your family and friends. I have a giveaway next week, so I'll see you then. :- )

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