Slow-Cooked Beef Casserole from Nurturing Your New Life by Heidi Sze
"If I had to name my family's best-loved recipe, this might be the one. We all perk up at the scent of it bubbling away on the stove. While Joan isn't overly fond of meat, she enjoys it when served in this manner. She prefers the carrots, though, which is why my recipe is so carrot-heavy - you may like to reduce the quantity and add some quartered potatoes early on, along with the stock and tomatoes. The key with this recipe is the long cooking time. I like to make this casserole a day ahead and allow it to sit in the fridge overnight - I find that the flavour only improves with time and the meat becomes even more fall-apart tender." - Heidi Sze, Nurturing Your New Life
3 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika or dried oregano
3 anchovy fillets (I use the oil-packed variety from a jar; optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
800 g diced stewing beef (I use chuck steak or beef cheeks - don't go for lean cuts)
4 cups (1 litre) Chicken stock (pages 288-9; see note) or beef stock
1x400 g tin diced tomatoes
5 carrots, cut into 6 cm batons
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley leaves, to garnish
NOTE: If you use shop-bought stock, it will likely be saltier than the homemade stock, so you might want to select a salt-reduced variety and use just 500 ml of the bought stock along with 500 ml of water.
NOTE: If omitting the anchovies, as I imagine some will (they're a divisive little fish), you may have to add a touch more salt. I encourage you to try them, though.
They melt away, leaving you with a rich, salty flavour.
NOTE: You can serve this casserole however you like, with couscous, quinoa, rice, pasta or crusty sourdough bread - our favourite is on top of potatoes that have been boiled then mashed with butter and crème fraiche. It's sublime.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee or oil in a large heavy-based Saucepan (1 use a 26 cm Dutch oven) over a medium heat. Add the onion and a tiny pinch of sea salt, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the paprika or oregano, anchovies, if using, and tomato paste, then cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the contents to a bowl and set aside. If you like, you can wipe the pan clean or, if you want extra flavour, leave the residue.
Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and add a second tablespoon of the ghee or oil. Brown the meat in two batches, adding a small pinch of salt with each batch and heating the remaining tablespoon of ghee or oil between the first and second batches. You'll get some browned bits on the bottom - that's good, they add loads of flavour - but if you feel the meat is catching or close to burning, you can deglaze by adding a splash of chicken stock and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Once the second batch of meat is browned, deglaze the pan with a splash of stock, then return the first batch of meat and the onion mixture to the pan.
Add the stock and tinned tomatoes and stir well. Cover with a lid, leaving it up slightly so there's a small space for steam to escape, bring to the boil, then reduce to the lowest heat and simmer for 3 hours, letting it languidly bubble away. Add the carrots then cook for a further 2 hours.
Once the stew is cooked, you can serve it however you like, garnished with a little fresh parsley. Ideally, I like to let it cool completely and then pop the whole pot in the fridge to sit overnight. Then you can set aside portions for freezing and gently reheat the rest for your meal.
You can find more recipes on Heidi's blog Apples Under My Bed, and in her column on ABC Everyday. You can also find her on instagram, where she shares recipes and musings on everyday life and motherhood