I haven’t posted a recipe in ages—not since the Christmas flurry! It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, I just haven’t had much time to cook anything exciting. It’s been more of that subsistence cooking we all fall back on when we’re busy.
Anyway, I was wandering through the supermarket last week looking for inspiration and saw the cover of the latest Australian Good Taste magazine, a gorgeous beef stew with a crunchy-garlic bread topping. Thankfully the weather has been cool of late, pulling me into a slow-cooking, hearty dinner kind of mode.
The basis of this recipe is a simple beef casserole, slowly cooked over 2.5 hours. It would make a great pie filling too. Then, Turkish bread, sliced and soaked in an eggy, cheesy, garlicky mixture topping the beef. And meltingly soft onion jam tucked in between the slices. All cooked until the bread is golden and crunchy. What’s not to like?
Serve it with a green salad, or a side of green beans.
Slow-cooked Beef with Onion Jam and Crunchy Garlic Bread
From Australian Good Taste Magazine, vol. 18 no. 5 (May 2013).
Serves 4-6For the beef filling: 40 g plain flour 1.5 kg beef chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 5cm chunks 2-3 Tbs olive oil 400g can diced tomatoes 250 ml beef stock 185 ml red wine 3 bay leaves 3 sprigs thyme 300g bacon rashers, coarsely chopped 1 leek, washed and sliced 1cm-thick For the onion jam: 1 Tbs olive oil 2 onions, thinly sliced 2 sprigs thyme 2 Tbs brown sugar 1 Tbs red wine vinegar For the crunchy garlic bread topping: 3 eggs 250 ml milk 25g shredded parmesan cheese 1 Tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves picked 2 garlic cloves, crushed 300g Turkish bread, sliced 2cm thick 12 cherry tomatoes, tossed in olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes or so until soft.
To make the filling:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Toss the beef with the flour and season with a little pepper. Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in 3-4 batches, using more oil if necessary, and transfer to a 3.5L/10 cup capacity casserole dish or dutch oven.
Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, bay leaves, thyme to the dish, cover and bake for 2.5 hrs.
Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the bacon and leek. Stir for 5 minutes, until the leek softens, then add to the beef and stir to combine. Bake for another 30 minutes or so.
To make the onion jam:
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and thyme and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion starts to caramelise. Add the sugar and vinegar and stir for 3 minutes until the mixture thickens and the liquid evaporates.
To make the crunchy garlic bread topping and assemble:
Use a couple of forks to shred the beef into smaller pieces. Spoon half of the beef filling into 1.75L/7 cup overproof dish or pan. Freeze remaining beef mixture for another use.
Whisk the eggs, milk, parmesan, parsley and garlic in a bowl and season with pepper. Soak each piece of bread in the egg mixture until soggy (about 30 secs) and place on top of the beef, overlapping slightly.
Spoon the onion mixture around and in between the bread slices, and pour over the remaining egg mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the bread is crunchy and golden.
Scatter the tomatoes across the dish and serve.
1. For a larger crowd, use all of the beef mixture and double the bread and onion jam. Otherwise, the leftover beef can be used to make another crunchy beef stew or served over rice or mashed potatoes, or even used as a pie filling.
2. Roast the tomatoes at the same time as the assembled dish. Small truss tomatoes can be used instead of individual cherry tomatoes.