I had some leftover roast beef and decided to use it up by making a casserole. I do like buying larger than necessary joints of meat, because they cook more evenly than a small joint, you get to use the leftovers in sandwiches and often in a completely new meal too! Here, with the exception of mushrooms, I used ingredients that I had in the fridge and cupboard.
I cooked using a Spanish lidded cazuela made of terracotta, but a cast iron casserole would do the job just as well. I prefer the above to a glass casserole dish, because either can be used to brown the ingredients on top of the stove before cooking in the oven. A glass casserole will break if used on the stove.
Beef Casserole recipe (serves 4):
1 lb beef (cubed)
2 pieces of streaky bacon (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
6 mushrooms (chopped)
half a pint of beef stock
2 teaspoons of ground herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme – ground in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt and black peppercorns)
2 bay leaves
a dessertspoonful of plain flour
a splash of red wine vinegar
a dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a squeeze of anchovy paste
a good slug of olive oil
Fry the onion in plenty of olive oil, until it goes translucent, then add the bacon and brown it a little. Next stir in the celery, carrots and garlic. Cook these for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms. When the mushrooms have been coated in oil, the beef can go in and then sprinkle on flour and mix in with a wooden spoon – in essence this is making a roux, which will thicken the stock, meat and vegetable juices.
Slowly pour the stock into the casserole and keep stirring for a minute or two to blend everything together. Add all the remaining ingredients, put the lid on the dish and bring to a simmer. When the liquid is bubbling, put the casserole into a preheated oven at 120ºC. I like to check and taste things every 30 minutes or so, but when cooking slowly with a covered casserole in the oven, it’s fairly safe to leave it for a few hours and it won’t stick because the heat is coming from all round the dish.
I cooked this for 90 minutes in the oven and left it uncovered on top of the stove at the lowest heat for a further 30 minutes to thicken it slightly and to allow a little bit of sticky layer to form on top. This could be cooked just as well with raw stewing steak (or similar cut), but might need a longer cooking time to tenderise the meat. Similarly, this would work well in a slow cooker for 8 hours or so, with precooked meat or a tough cut best suited to long slow cooking times.
Serve with mashed potato and a robust red wine, such as Era Costana Crianza Rioja.