Beef, Mushroom and Guinness Casserole

guiness-draught-beer-440ml-can-lr

Serves 3 to 4

This recipe continues the theme that you don’t have to get complicated to get outstanding results.

Although this is a casserole, don’t be tempted to cook it in a slow cooker because you will be left with a boozy taste.

It is best made the day before to give the flavours time to develop.

I like to turn this dish into a pie by serving it with a puff pastry “lid” which I cook separately in the oven while the casserole is reheating on the hob.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
150g white button mushrooms quartered
1kg braising steak (knuckle or shin) cubed
2 heaped tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 440ml can of Guinness
300ml beef stock (made with an Oxo cube)
Salt
Ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large oven-proof pan and soften the onion for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until they are well coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Toss the meat in the flour.

Heat the oil in the pan and brown the beef in batches. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan with the beef, stir in any excess flour, then add the Guinness and stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours. Stir the mixture a couple of times during cooking and add a splash or two of boiling water if the gravy looks too thick.

Beef Casserole in a Slow Cooker

beef-cubed-lr

Serves 4

This is an excellent and simple beef casserole. It doesn’t need anything to go with it because of the large amounts of vegetables in it. However, it throws off a lot of sauce so if mashed potatoes are your thing, go for it!

8 carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
8 celery sticks, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1kg stewing beef (shin beef, braising steak, knuckle etc.) cubed
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
250ml red wine
500ml beef stock (I use an Oxo cube)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp Marmite
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Several sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

Place the carrots and celery in the bowl of your slow cooker.

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and brown the beef in batches, removing each batch to a bowl once browned. Next sauté the onions until soft and starting to colour. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Sprinkle in the flour and continue to cook, stirring. If it starts to catch, add a splash of stock. Continue to stir adding the wine splash by splash, then pour in the stock and cook uncovered until the mixture has thickened and reduced. This is important to get rid of the alcohol.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and the beef, bring the mixture to a simmer, then pour it over the carrots and celery in the slow cooker bowl. Give everything a good stir, cover and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours.

Chilli Con Carne

Chilli con carne low res

Serves 4

All meat eaters seem to love chilli con carne. It is often one of the first dishes that people learn to cook, not least students. I guess that’s because it is easy to cook and you can get a pretty decent result without slavishly following a recipe.

However, if you get the recipe just right, forget pretty decent – chilli con carne can be divine! The secret is in getting the spice mixture right. The dish should be packed full of flavours that come to you in layers; think 3D rather than 2D. And you need the level of chilli heat to be spot on. Not enough and you just have a glorified beef stew. Too much and the burning masks the flavours.

Oftentimes people make chilli con carne using minced beef. I find you get a quite different and much richer result using cubes of beef rather than mince. It’s more refined too, good dinner party fare.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.2kg beef knuckle or beef shin, trimmed and cubed (your butcher will do this for you, just ask)
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Spice mixture made up with: 1 ½ tsp Pasilla chilli powder, 1 ½ tsp Mulato chilli powder, 1 ½ tsp Ancho chilli powder, 1 tsp Chipotle chilli powder, 1 rounded tablespoon ground cumin, 1 rounded tablespoon dried oregano and ½ tsp finely ground black pepper
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes (preferably Mutti tomato pulp)
400ml beef stock
4 sundried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
2 tsp sugar
Salt
2 medium green peppers, stalks removed, deseeded and chopped into bite size pieces
2 x 400g tins red kidney beans, drained
Optional: a ladle or two of real tomato sauce or passata

Heat the oil in an oven proof casserole dish and brown the meat in batches, removing each batch to a bowl as soon as it is browned using a slotted spoon. Once all the meat has been browned add a little more oil to the pan if needs be and sauté the onions until soft and golden, approximately 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for one minute.   Add the spice mixture and stir constantly for one minute to heat through and mix thoroughly with the onions. If it starts to catch, add a splash of stock.

Add the tomatoes, stock, sundried tomatoes and sugar and season with a generous pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, return the beef to the pan and bring it to a simmer again. Cover and braise in the oven at 160° for two hours. Stir every 20 minutes or so, making sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the sides of the pan. Add a splash of boiling water if the mixture starts to dry out but make sure the sauce isn’t too runny.

After the two hours is up taste the dish and check the seasoning, adding salt if you think it needs it. If you find the dish too spicy for your palate, stir in a ladle or two of real tomato sauce (you can get the recipe here) or passata.

At this stage the dish can be chilled and stored in the fridge for up to three days or frozen until needed.

To finish the dish, slowly return it to a gentle simmer then add the green peppers and red kidney beans. Stir to mix well, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I like to serve this with plain white rice but it is also good with potato wedges, baked potatoes, chips, various breads and even pasta. And of course everyone loves tortilla chips and grated cheddar cheese with chilli con carne!

Hungry Gaucho Beef Rub

Thyme low resThis is one of LW’s top three seasoning blends. She loves to griddle a well-seasoned, juicy rib eye steak, cooking it to just about medium.

First she seasons the steak with my Hungry Gaucho Beef Rub, then allows it to stand out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes. She heats up the griddle pan before placing the steak in it. She cooks the steak for several minutes, turning it occasionally. The idea is to get the steak nicely seared on the outside but still juicy on the inside. Once it is cooked, she takes the pan off the heat and lets the steak rest in it for several minutes. All she needs to go with it is a green salad or some fries.

This spice mix has a mild-to-medium heat and is easy to use. Simply mix the seasoning with a little oil to make a loose paste, rub it onto your beef – a steak, joint or burger, whatever you fancy – then leave it to marinate for up to an hour. Cook it in the usual way – griddle, grill, barbecue or roast. Allow 1 teaspoon of the spice mix per portion.

1 tsp dried thyme
¾ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp mustard seed powder
1 ½ tsp paprika
¾ tsp salt

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a spice jar until needed.

(P.S. Although I created this spice mix to season beef, the mix itself is vegan and vegetarian and can be used to season vegetables for frying, roasting, grilling or barbequing.)

Beef in BBQ Sauce

Beef brisket joint

Serves 8

This is my take on a classic dish of beef slowly cooked in a BBQ sauce. You’ll find versions of this dish in various cookbooks and although they are all quite similar, the difference comes from the mix of BBQ sauces used. You can use any BBQ sauce that you prefer but I have found that mixing the Levi Roots and Jack Daniels sauces gives the perfect balance of sweet, sour and spice.

This is a sweet dish so a favourite with the kids. And it’s easy too. Although the cooking time is long, it can be made ahead of time, stored in the fridge and reheated when needed.

For the Marinade…
1 bottle Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce
1 bottle Jack Daniels smoky BBQ sauce
250 ml (1 small bottle) lager
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 onions finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 brisket of beef, rolled and tied, approx. 2kg in weight

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, add the brisket and make sure it is evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof casserole dish. Remove the brisket from the marinade, scrape off any excess marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Brown in the vegetable oil, turning to make sure the brisket is evenly coloured. Pour over the marinade, bring to a simmer, then cover and bake in a low oven for 3 hours.

Once cooked, allow the brisket to cool slightly, then transfer it to a chopping board. Remove the string then cut the meat into slices and chunks. Cut away and discard any excess skin or fat.

Place the meat into a clean casserole dish and pour over the sauce either as it is or sieved if you like it smooth. Stir to mix evenly, then allow to go cold, cover and store in the fridge overnight.

When ready to serve remove the dish from the fridge and remove any fat that may have solidified on the surface. Bake in the oven uncovered until bubbling and hot. Stir from time to time to make sure the surface doesn’t burn.

 

Nutritional InfoValue per ServingDaily Value
Calories559
Total fat22g34%
Saturated fat7g34%
Cholesterol155mg52%
Sodium758mg33%
Total carbohydrate31g11%
Dietary fibre2g6%
Sugar23g
Protein53g106%
Vitamin A3%
Vitamin C8%
Calcium6%
Iron34%

Beef and Prune Tagine

Prunes low res

Serves 2 to 3

This is a dark and very rich Moroccan dish full of aromatic, body-warming spices. Every time I eat it I am transported back to the spice stalls in the souk in Marrakesh. Pyramids of brightly coloured ground spices draw you in and the air there is redolent with pungent cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. A bit different to the little pots of ground spices we see in our local supermarkets!

This dish is strong on flavour but not too hot. It has become a firm favourite with everyone who has tried it. The sweetness of the prunes is balanced by the sourness of the tamarind. I serve it with plain boiled white rice but it is equally good with flatbreads. As a vegetable accompaniment, I like courgette batons lightly sautéed in vegetable oil.

You’ll notice in this recipe that the meat isn’t browned first. Browning meat is a routine many cooks get into but it isn’t always necessary. In dishes like this where the meat is covered in spices, browning it could easily burn the spices and give the dish a bitter taste.

For the marinade…
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
600g (trimmed weight) beef shin or knuckle, cubed

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
250g soft stoned prunes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons runny honey
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch coriander leaves, washed and roughly chopped (about 2 heaped tablespoons)
2 rounded tsp tamarind paste
2 green jalapeno chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
500ml beef stock

Start by marinating the beef 24 hours ahead of time. In a medium bowl, mix all of the spice powders with the olive oil to make a loose paste. Add the beef cubes and stir well to make sure the beef is evenly coated. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 24 hours.

To make the finished dish, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until softened and starting to colour, approx 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add all of the other ingredients, except for the beef stock and the beef and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the beef, stir well and allow the beef to heat up. Finally, add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook in a low oven for 2 to 3 hours. Add a little boiling water from time to time if the dish starts to dry out but make sure the sauce in the final dish is rich and not too loose.

Harrira (Moroccan Soup)

Saffron threads

Serves 4 as a main course

Here is a recipe that uses lots of spices – Harrira.  Authentic Harrira is a Moroccan soup made with lamb but I use beef in my version as it is easier to come by and generally a lot cheaper.  Don’t be put off by the seemingly long list of ingredients – many of them are just spices.  It is easy to make, it is a convenient one-pot meal, and it demonstrates how food can taste fantastic when you get the flavouring right.

(Note: if you do use lamb instead of beef in this dish, it can throw off a lot of fat, so it is best to pre-cook the dish then allow it to cool (or better still, chill in the fridge over night).  The fat will then come to the surface and can be skimmed off quite easily.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
1 pinch saffron threads
1 kg beef knuckle or shin beef, trimmed & cut into bite sized pieces
6 large celery sticks, chopped
2 green peppers, deseeded and diced
2 green chillies, deseeded and diced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 ½ litres beef stock (made with 2 Oxo cubes)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons sugar
Red wine vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained

Heat the oil and sauté the onions until soft.  Add the spices and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the beef and sauté, stirring until hot.  Add the celery, peppers and chillies and sauté until starting to soften.  Add the tomatoes, stock, salt, pepper and sugar.  Cover and bring to simmering point.  Cook in the oven or simmer gently on the hob for 1 ½ hours.

Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper, cayenne, red wine vinegar and/or sugar as necessary.  The aim is to get a good balance between salt, spice, sweet and sour.  Add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 30 minutes.

Once cooked, this dish can be cooled and stored in a fridge for a couple of days.  To reheat, simply bring it slowly to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes.