Beef casserole

30 July 2009
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. :- )


  1. Yum! Although here in the U.S. we are in the midst of hot weather, this looks so good and comforting. I love cold weather foods. Thanks for sharing this stick-to-your-ribs recipe.

  2. What a great statement, "When you're happy with the meat". :)

  3. That looks absolutely delish Rhonda. Thanks for sharing, I know what is on the menu this weekend!


  4. Weird just chucked some shin beef and vegetables a bit of bacon and some homemade tomato puree into the slow cooker for dinner tonight. Must be the weather!!! Have a fantastic day.

  5. That looks delicious and would make a wonderful winter meal. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yummy, I call mine beef shanks and we LOVE LOVE LOVE that cut of beef. It's one of our favorites right next to oxtail. I only wish we could get our hands on more haha! This looks like a great recipe, can't wait to try it!

  7. That looks and sounds so delicious!
    As commenter Darcy Lee said even though in the U.S. it's warm weather!

  8. Thanks so much Rhonda, a well timed recipe for our mid-winter! I am discovering the joy of home cooking but never felt confident to make a beef casserole and you have de-mystified it for me! The herb dumplings sound comforting too- are they supposed to go crunchy/brown on top?


  9. That looks so delicious!! Will have to bookmark it for later as it was 107 yesterday and its got to be at least 100 today. Have not wanted to cook or bake at all lately. It has not even cooled down at night. My poor kids have no bread and ate applesauce for lunch lol.

    Not sure if you are still taking post topic requests. I would love to read a future post about chickens and the heat (or even just weather in general). I am sure it must get hot where you are? We lost our first chicken yesterday (after a year and a half) to the heat (we are assuming anyway) and my oldest daughter is just devastated. It was her favorite hen named Blue. Not sure if we could have done anything about it though. :(

  10. It's summer here but that dish can be enjoyed in all seasons.

  11. Hi Rhonda, I just wanted to let you know I look forward to your posts everyday and always take something valuable away from them, whether it be practical advice or something much deeper emotionally. Being young(ish! is 28 still young?!) and living in another state to family, it is so nice having you there to tell us all these things my mum and nan should be telling me! Please dont take that the wrong way - I mean that you are such a hive of knowledge! Anyway, just wanted to say keep up the brilliant work!!! Take care.
    Kate :-)

  12. Hi RJ

    I always make my casseroles in my slow cooker and they come out beautifully. I also top it with your dumplings in the last 20-25 minutes of cooking. My son thinks the dumplings are the best!

  13. My mother did the exact same recipe when I was a child growing up in the 50's & 60's. Because my father refused to eat meat if he saw any fat or bone on it, Mum used trimmed round steak instead. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

  14. You are right, the secret to the great flavor is the rich browning of the meat and vegetables. You make it much like my mother taught me years ago. Sometimes, if I have a little leftover coffee, I'll pour that in with the water for a rich gravy. V.

  15. Your dumpling sound great I'm saving the recipe.
    It to hot now here to turn on the oven and now hubby and I are canning.

    Coffee is on.

  16. Yum! I haven't had dumplings since I was a child - I'd always beg for more. Definitely on the menu for tomorrow. :)

    Cath in Sydney

  17. We are suposed to be in our Summer over here in the u.k.Rhona..but it as done nothing but rain for practically the past im hoping August will be better...that Beef Casserole looks lovely ..just the thing for these miserable wet days..ive not done herbg dumplings before (just normal ones)..they look good too..think ill try those for a change..Thanks Rhona.

  18. Like you we only eat local pasture fed beef, I think this is so important. Imported beef more than likely is contributing to environmental degradation and world hunger. Your cooking looks absolutely scrumptious, can we come and live with you?!!!!

  19. Those dumplings look yummy!
    I don't know if you do blog awards but there's one for you on mine:

  20. This sounds yummy. I'll have to try it this winter.

  21. It's amazing that I should read of your shin beef casserole with herb dumplings as I cooked this exact meal a week ago.
    I used herbs from the garden, rosemary, parsley, a small amount of mint and some fresh thyme.
    I mixed my dumplings in the food processor and they were very light and fluffy. Yum yum.

    I've been reading your page for a long time Rhonda but this is the first time I've added a comment.

  22. mmmm that looks very delicious.
    I love Nourshing Traditions, it's great!!!
    Have a lovely weekend! :o)

  23. Hi Rhonda,

    I have this in the oven right now and the smell is delicious! I've not made a casserole in a long time and certainly not that many of them either.

    I read your posts everyday...yours is the first I look for when I go to my Reader. Your writings have been instrumental in the slow change in attitude I am having reagrding my housework and all things to do with home really.

    Thank you for everything you write...your own attutude and wisdom is having a great effect!

  24. Hi Rhonda
    mmmmmhhh looks delicious. Read here for a long time, but unfortunately I can not so good English. Your blog is great. Greetings from Germany.

  25. Delicious! We're having a Welsh stew tonight, the one from Rosemary Hemphill's Spice and Savour, if you know it (combining cooking with gardening information, herb lore, and the occasional ancient recipe). It's a genuine stew -- no browning, and I made it in a slow cooker -- but has bay leaves and thyme to add flavour. I'm adding chopped parsley as a garnish and serving it with rice.

    I steer clear of haricots (where you brown the vegies as well as the meat) for fear they might be too greasy. How do you find it?

  26. After much research (husband works in this research area) into the transmission risk of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalogy) and it's human equivalent CJD we stopped eating beef sometime ago.
    The more muscled meat e.g. shin beef has the extra risk that infected material in the dorsal root ganglia will be passed into the muscle tissue.
    Human cases of CJD are still occurring but are not publicised as they used to be.

  27. Your dinner looks so fabulously delicious!

  28. LOL! It is so hot here that I have not turned on the stove in days! And to think it is cold where you are.It made me chuckle to read about cold weather comfort food.

  29. Yum.....although I suspect cold where you are and cold here in Melbourne are a little different. Nice dumplings too, i think dumplings may be back in vogue.

  30. Thank you for posting this wonderful herb dumpling recipe - I adore comfort food and you have inspired me to give them a go! especially down here in icy Canberra. Lovely!

  31. And wonderful oxtail casserole with tomatoes and garlic slow cooked of course, is delicious and with enough left over for soup so warming these cold Winter days!

  32. Rhonda I made this recipe last night - using lamb instead of beef - and the kids were clamouring for more dumplings. Just like I did all those years ago. :)

    Cath in Sydney

  33. Oooooh...this looks delicious! Thank you for the recipe for the herb dumplings- I'm a big fan of stew with dumplings (or biscuits!) Definitely will try this come fall, or even a rainy day! (We've been getting a LOT of that up here in Canada this summer!) Thank you so much!



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