Easy Beef and Dumpling Casserole

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Not only is this dish simple to assemble, it ticks every box for a sour, dull, dank, rainy day in need of serious cheering up on the food front! I made it yesterday for a late lunch. Cooked for 4 of us and there is still a bowl left over for a late night something later on!

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Ingredients

1 kg beef cubed – chuck steak is great – skirt too – just ask your butcher

Olive oil

8 tulip shallots peeled and roughly chopped (or you could use 3 medium sized onions)

1 tbsp plain flour

900 ml good beef stock

200 ml beer – I used Guinness

Heaped tsp of dried thyme or good sprig of the fresh stuff

2 bay leaves

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp of tomato puree

Salt and black pepper

Method

Heat oven to 140c,

Add a good glug of oil to a large frying pan and when hot add the beef. Stir round til browned all over. Remove and place in a large casserole dish – one with a lid. Add the onions to the frying pan and fry until the onions soften. Add them to the beef and then add the flour. Put over a low heat whilst you stir in the flour.

Add the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and a swizzle of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the stock and beer, stir and add the tomato puree – you can use a good brand tomato sauce instead if you wish.

Once it is starting to simmer – put the lid on and pop in the preheated oven for 2 hours and ten minutes. 

Now make the dumplings – 

You will need 100 gm of self-raising flour and 50 gm of suet – I use Atora – love the funky 60s retro box!

Mix the flour and suet together in a bowl, add a good pinch of salt and then around 5 table spoons of cold water. Mix it together until you get a good consistency and no flour is left in the bowl. Wash your hands and then make 8 golf ball size dumplings.

Put to one side. When the timer goes for the beef, remove the lid and gently place in the dumplings – well spaced out – pop lid back on and return to the oven for twenty minutes.

I served the casserole  with sweet mashed potato, buttered with a little cumin. I also had steamed kale and new potatoes in butter and coriander. It was a marvellous combination of flavours.

As with so many recipes this is one you can tinker with to your heart’s desire – you could use half beer half stock – even all beer if you wished! You could add a little pureed spinach to your dumpling mix – the possibilities are endless.

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IMG_5424 This is funky – admit it !

4 Cheese Macaroni makes Monday’s supper magical…

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4 Cheese Macaroni makes Monday supper magical...

This is one of those dishes that is simply a sensory delight. It transforms a dull clichéd pasta and cheese dish into a veritable dish of the Gods. It looks good, it smells unbelievable and the texture is phenomenal. It is a dish to leave home for, to marry for, to fight for. I cannot tell you how good it is – but, and I know I wax lyrical rather too often at times – this dish is really worth waxing about – it is fabulous in every sense of the word. Please – please – please make it – and make it soon. Throw all other macaroni recipes in the bin.

For 4

500 gms pasta – use macaroni – I used a mix from my odds and sods tin – very home should have one
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 large teaspoons of oregano
75 gms Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus a little extra for grating
100 gms Taleggio cheese, roughly chopped – my favourite …mmmm
100 gms mascarpone cheese
1 ball of mozzarella cheese
75 gms of lardons pan fired and put to one side
A sprinkle of dried chilli seeds

Preheat the oven to 200ºc. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander and keep back a little of the cooking water.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, add the oregano and fry gently for a minute, then turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the oregano oil (this is a vital part of the process and adds immensely to the sensory experience of this dish- I promise), along with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water and the parmesan, taleggio and mascarpone.

Return to a medium heat and toss and stir around until most of the cheese has melted and you have a seriously goo style sauce – you may need to add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Add a short sharp shock of sea salt and two or three grinds of black pepper, then tip it all into an earthenware dish. Add the lardons. Add the mozzarella sliced into slivers and sprinkle over the extra parmesan. Then add the sprinkle of chilli seeds. Bake the macaroni cheese in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and stick the dish under a preheated grill until golden brown.

I served it with a rocket salad and a fine bottle of Primitivo from Puglia – a favourite wine of mine.

My Monday is now complete. I can face the rest of the week- all because of this dish.

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My perfect late night snack…

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My perfect late night snack...

Just a quick post as I did not want this one to escape…I popped all this perfection into a pan the other night when I came home late famished and in need of instant sustenance. A little butter and olive oil into the pan and a cored and sliced apple – pan fried for five minutes then I added slices of black gold – black pudding – possibly one of my oldest comfort foods – I was eating this when I was 8 or 9 years old and it still brings back so many good memories of eating with my parents. I am sure this is a dish everyone does now and then – but if not – you must – served on a plate with a dash of dijon mustard it is paradise on a plate.