I love casseroles, especially now that Autumn is upon us. I really love recipes that can be stretched to feed us for a couple of meals AND are easy to prepare because the oven does most of the work whilst I rush about doing loads of other things. Luckily for me, this recipe fits those criteria perfectly.
This recipe is easily adjusted to feed more or less people and you can also add some fresh or dried herbs to vary the flavour. It is one of my autumn/winter standby recipes that is great to keep as an emergancy dinner in the freezer.
Serves 8 (or the 5 of us in our household over 2 nights)
1 kg casserole beef, trimmed of fat and sliced 3/4 inch (2cm) thick
2 onions, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into small chunks
3 tsp minced garlic (I use 3 frozen cubes of crushed garlic)
1 or 2 bay leaves
200ml red or white wine or beef stock
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
300ml tomato juice
3 Tbsp cornflour
2 peppers, diced (any colour will do)
400g packet flaky or puff pastry
Beaten egg or milk to glaze the pastry
Cut the beef into large cubes and season with pepper. Brown the meat in several batches, using a little oil. Add a little extra oil if you need to. Once all the beef has been browned, set it aside. Reduce the heat, stir in all the vegetables and garlic. Cook everything until it has just lightly browned.
Return the browned beef to the pan with the bay leaf, wine or stock, soy sauce and tomato juice. Stir everything together and wait until the mixture boils. Cover and put in the oven at 160°C for 1 – 1¼ hours or until the meat is tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to.
Mix the cornflour well with 50ml of cold water and gently stir it into the casserole to thicken it. Add the chopped peppers and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve half of the casserole at this stage with mash and extra vegetables.
Cool the other half of the casserole well. If you put pastry onto hot meat, the pasty will have a soggy layer underneath when it's been cooked. Eugh!
Either put the cold casserole mixture into a pie dish and cover with rolled pastry, or cut the rolled pastry into large rounds or squares and make individual pies/pasties by placing the casserole meat in the centre and folding the pastry over before sealing the edges. Remember to cut a coulple of small slits to let any steam escape whilst they are baking.
Brush the pastry with beaten egg or milk to glaze it. Bake at 200°C for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden.