Beef casserole is one of those dishes that almost everyone has a recipe for. The important thing when working on basic dishes like this is to let yourself experiment. Although you will have some simple guidelines to follow when you make a beef casserole, don't feel constrained by them. Instead experiment and find out what you and your family like best.
Things You'll Need
- Beef chicken or vegetable stock
- Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
Buy beef that is appropriate for stewing or casseroles. When you cook beef casserole-style, it makes tough cuts of beef delicious. This means beef that you would not typically cook on its own such as stewing beef, skirt steak, chuck or braising meat is perfect.
Dice your beef into bite-size chunks -- usually, cubes roughly an inch square.
Add some oil to a pan and heat it well. Brown the beef in the pan and then transfer it to the casserole dish. You can season the beef with salt and pepper or any other spices that you want before you brown it. If making a larger casserole, you may have to brown the beef in several batches.
Chop up some onions and cook them in the pan with the oil and leftover juices from the beef. Cook them until they are soft and add other hard vegetables that you might like, such as garlic or celery. About one onion per pound of beef used is normal, but feel free to adjust for personal preference.
Pour the stock into the pan. About 1/2 a cup per 1 lb. of beef will be plenty, although you can always add more or less if you prefer a thicker or thinner casserole. If you want to thicken the sauce itself, add some flour to the mixture.
Add tomatoes to the sauce. If you are using canned diced tomatoes, about one can should be the correct amount. If you are using fresh tomatoes, about six medium size tomatoes finely chopped is appropriate.
Season the onion sauce. Use a 2 to 3 tbsp. of red wine, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce into the casserole dish with your beef and add your chopped carrots and potatoes.
Cook in the oven. Cook it low and long rather than fast and hot. If you made a recipe with about 2 lbs. of beef, 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 300 degrees Fahrenheit is about right.
Tips & Warnings
- Feel free to add other vegetables and spices to your casserole. Some people like peas, leeks or mushrooms added in. Keep an eye on the casserole the first time you cook it to see how its coming. You can always add water or stock if the beef isn't tender yet but the casserole starts drying out.
- Photo Credit beef meat image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com
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