Crunchy beef stew!

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.

Crunchy Beef Stew

Slow-cooked Beef with Onion Jam and Crunchy Garlic Bread

From Australian Good Taste Magazine, vol. 18 no. 5 (May 2013).

Serves 4-6

For 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.


It’s the season for winter food

We’ve had a bad run of winter colds in our family so far this winter, and it’s really only just begun. And I haven’t much felt like cooking while in the midst of it all. But today I really felt like cooking, something filling, something nourishing.

It’s also been cold and wet—with the winter solstice has come the wintery weather. While I dream of tropical holidays, the reality is quite different. This kind of weather demands food that sticks to the ribs, food that warms from the inside.

So this is a beef stew, a casserole if you will. What makes it a bit different are the dumplings, soft pillows of cheesy goodness floating on the top of the rich stew. Mmm, delicious!

Beef Stew with Parsley Dumplings

Adapted from Slow Cooking, by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 4-6

1 kg beef chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
2 Tbs plain flour
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs (25g) butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g Dutch carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup red wine
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 c beef stock
4 sprigs of thyme
1 c self raising flour
1 Tbs (50g) butter
1  egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c finely chopped flat leaf parsley
50g semi-sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped finely
1/4 c milk, approximately

Preheat oven to 160C.

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a large dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Toss the beef with the flour and shake off the excess. Brown in batches and set aside. If required, add a bit more oil between batches

Heat the butter in the same pot or dish over medium-high heat and saute the onions, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Return the beef to the pot and add the tomato paste, stock and thyme. Bring to the boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. cook for 1 .5 hours.

While the stew is cooking, prepare the dumplings as follows. Rub the butter into the self-raising flour with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, cheese, parsley, tomato and milk and stir until the mixture forms a soft sticky dough.

Remove the dish from the oven and drop tablespoonfuls of dumpling mixture onto the surface, leaving about 1.5-2cm between each dumpling. Cook in the oven for a further 20 minutes, uncovered, until the dumplings are golden brown and cooked through.


Moroccan meatball magic

The kids have been asking for meatballs. And I have had in the back of my mind for a while a recipe for a meatball tagine in a rich and tomato-y sauce. So I pulled out the recipe books and had a look.

I had two somewhat different recipes, one in the Australian Women’s Weekly Moroccan cook book and the other in Moroccan Modern by Hassan M’souli. Both meatballs in tomato sauce, both with eggs poached in the sauce just before serving. In the end, I went with the AWW recipe, as it was a bit simpler.

But if I did it again, I would make meatballs more like the ones in the Moroccan Modern recipe as the ones I made were a little bit dry. The sauce was nice though, and I love the soft oozy egg poached in the sauce at the end. I served it with a simple rice pilaf, but it would go just as well with couscous or even a loaf of turkish bread or ciabatta to mop up the eggy sauce.

Meatball tagine with eggs

Adapted from Moroccan, by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 4

500g mince beef
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbs coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tins diced tomatoes in their juices
pinch of saffron
4 eggs
fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Combine mince with half of the garlic, coriander, ground cinnamon, ground coriander and half of the ground cumin. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.

Brown the meatballs in 1 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove to a plate and set aside while preparing the sauce.

Saute the onions in the remaining olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and saute briefly, then add the tomatoes, saffron and remaining cumin and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Return meatballs to the saucepan and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until cooked through, and sauce thickens slightly. Season to taste.

Break eggs into pan and cover. Simmer until eggs are barely set. Sprinkle with corander leaves and serve.


1. You can cook this in a tagine or a deep frypan with a lid.

2. Add 1/4 tsp chili powder to both the meatballs and the sauce if desired.

3. I needed to add about half a cup of water to the sauce as it thickened up a bit more than I wanted it to, before the meatballs were cooked through.