Recipes

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.

Notes:

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.

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Recipes

Brunch or lunch?

We caught up with old friends this morning. They used to be our neighbours until we moved to a bigger house, and we kind of lost track of each other over the last few years. Earlier this year they had a baby of their own, and today they came over for brunch, or lunch, or whatever you like to call it.

To make things easier for myself I thought I’d serve a dish that I could prepare the night before. This recipe is based loosely on a few recipes from Bon Appetit magazine from about 15 years ago—a variety of recipes can be found on the Epicurious website using the search term “strata“. To me it’s a lot like a bread pudding, albeit a savoury one. I mixed and matched from a couple of recipes, tweaking it to suit the ingredients I had to hand.

It’s a really simple recipe and takes about 15 minutes to set up. Tastes pretty good too, eggy, without being overpowering, nicely cheesy, a spicy kick from the sausage. It’s simple to change around ingredients to get a different flavour, think prosciutto and goats cheese, or fetta cheese and olives, or artichoke hearts and roasted veges. A good brunch dish or a simple supper, or a make-ahead Christmas day breakfast.

And it went down a treat, along with some good conversation.

Chorizo, cheese and vege bread pudding

Serves 4-6

2 chorizo sausages
olive oil
10-12 thick slices of white bread
200g grated cheddar cheese
1 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 spring onion, sliced finely
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
5 large eggs, lightly whisked
2.5 c milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper 

Slice sausage into half-rounds about 1/2 cm thick and fry over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until starting to colour. Drain on paper towel.

Remove crusts from bread, and cut each slice into 4-6 squares. Mix bread, sausage, cheese, capsicum, tomatoes, spring onions and basil in a large bowl.

Combine eggs, milk, and mustard in a bowl or jug and season to taste. Pour over bread mixture and stir gently to combine.

Use olive oil or butter to lightly grease a rectangular glass or ceramic baking dish. Spread bread mixture evenly across and chill for at least 2-3 hrs, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 180C and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

1. The crusts can be left on the bread if preferred.

2. Ingredients can be substituted to suit your own tastes: use a different kind of smoked sausage or replace with ham, bacon or proscuitto, vary the vegetables, replace some of the cheddar cheese with feta or goats cheese, add olives or sundried tomatoes, try sourdough bread instead of white.