One of the most useful additions to my kitchen over the last two years has been the cast iron casserole dish we were given by my fiance’s parents as our engagement present. Countless stews, casseroles and curries have been cooked and served in this beautiful royal blue pan. It is the most versatile piece of cookware we own, perfect for making stock out of a leftover chicken carcass or making batches of soup for weekday lunches.
My advice if you’re looking to splash out on a present for a foodie, a cast iron casserole dish is a fantastic idea if they don’t already own one!
Onto the recipe… This is an adaptation of a recipe from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals with more emphasis on vegetable content to bulk up the dish. I bought a pound of stewing beef from one of the butchers in the English Market and after 2 hours of cooking in the oven, it was falling apart in the pan and tasted absolutely amazing.
adapted from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals
2 tbsp olive oil
454g stewing beef, cut into 2cm chunks
salt & black pepper
2 tbsp flour
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
2 large leeks, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
200 ml red wine
300ml beef stock
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 strips orange peel
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary
200 g ready rolled pastry
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Pour the olive oil into a casserole dish on a medium-high heat, season the beef with salt and pepper and, when hot, add the beef to the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes until well browned, then stir in the flour and cook for a further minute.
Add the vegetables, tomato paste and garlic. Stir together and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the wine, vinegar, orange peel, bay leaf and rosemary, along with the beef stock. Season with salt and pepper, then stir together, bring to the boil and cover with a lid.
Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours or until the beef is tender. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature up to 220C.
Cut the pastry to fit the top of the casserole dish, leaving an extra 1cm on the edge. Make a hole in the centre with a sharp knife, and add the pastry on top of the filling.
Return the dish to the oven, and bake for a further 12-15 minutes until the pastry is crisp.