Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Casserole

Casserole 2

I know, I know, I have been seriously lacking on the recipes front lately! I know I made a promise to myself to try something new at least once a month, but while remodelling a kitchen it becomes more than a little tricky to get creative with your cooking! I have actually had this post sat in my drafts for months now, but the Summer took on such a sweltering and sultry turn that it seemed silly to post a casserole recipe when all anyone wanted to do was lie in a shallow pool of cold water sipping iced G&Ts! This weekend though Storm Callum brought us the Autumnal weather we’re more used to, and it seemed like the perfect time to settle in with some yummy slow cooked comfort food!

I’ve never been a huge eater of meat. I have always been an animal lover though, and aged 10, my school took us on a day trip to Hereford Market during which traumatic events led to 15 years a vegetarianism! To be honest, it wasn’t my love of animals so much that led to this choice – I have always had a sensible head on my shoulders (at least when we aren’t talking about shoes, anyway…) and understood where food came from and that it was a natural part of the food chain to eat meat – but it was more the fact that I struggled to separate the two images in my head. The living, breathing things that I loved so much, and the fleshy substance on my plate. Blood, bone, gristle – it was all just too much for me and it just seemed easier to avoid it altogether! Honestly, these days I am still a little squeamish about meat, and don’t feel the need to eat it in every meal (which I actually think is an approach a lot more people should take, but that is a conversation for another day!) but over the years I have been able to learn more about how to source and cook meat in a way that makes me feel better about eating it, and one thing has become incredibly apparent – slow cooked meat is my jam!

Getting a slow cooker was one of the best decisions for me, cooking wise. Not only has it meant I can cook more dishes for my meat loving man that I also enjoy instead of just churning out the same chicken based meals over and over, it is also the perfect way of being able to cook more interesting, deeply flavoured things without having to give up a whole afternoon – something that I’m sure many of you will agree can be hard to do in this day and age! Most of my favourite recipes just take half an hour or so of chopping and prepping before you throw it all in the pot for a few hours and leave it to do it’s thang! And of course there is an added bonus – there are few things more cosy that coming in from a walk with the dog in the cold to the smell of something cooking away in the kitchen! So without further ado (sorry, I’m incredibly good a the ado for some reason…), here’s one of my faves…

Casserole 1.jpg

Ingredients

200g Bacon lardons

2 tbsp plain flour

1kg stewing beef, diced

2 large carrots, diced

2 large parsnips, diced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

20 small shallots, peeled

200g button mushrooms, chopped

750ml red wine

400ml beef stock

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 bay leaf

Large bunch of fresh parsley

Large sprig of thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Preheat slow cooker on high. Fry off the bacon lightly and put to one side, then do the same with the shallots. Next fry the onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips and mushrooms until softened, and add to the bacon and shallots. After coating the beef pieces in the flour, fry off until browned, using a little of the wine to loosen any of the juices left behind. Add everything to the pan, then pour in the rest of the wine, the tomatoes, the stock and the herbs, leaving some of the parsley for later, and bring to the boil, mixing and seasoning as you go. Then pour it into the slow cooker and forget about it for a few hours! Once ready you may have to thicken it a little, which I do by mixing a little flour and water and adding until you get the desired effect, and then simply sprinkle the remaining fresh parsley on top! Voila!

And I’m not exaggerating when I say forget about it – most recipes recommend leaving for 2 – 3 hours, but the beauty of a casserole is that you can’t really over cook it, at least not while there is still liquid in the mix! When we cooked this the first time we genuinely did forget about it – we got into the hot tub with a couple of rum and cokes and completely failed to notice the passing of time! The casserole was all the better for it though, having had a lovely long soak in all it’s flavours the meat was so beautifully tender and just falling apart – just how I like it! My favourite way to serve this is with another of my favourite comfort foods – buttery potatoes, either baked or mashed – but the possibilities are endless so go nuts! It also makes a great freezer meal for those nights when you can’t be bothered to cook, so don’t throw out the leftovers – stay tuned for a future post all about how to use them up and get the most out of the dish!

Casserole 3.jpg

Snuggle in and enjoy folks, Winter is coming!

Love,

Sig

2 thoughts on “Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Casserole

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