Basic Stew/Casserole Recipe
2 onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (optional)
1 kg (2 lbs) meat of choice, cut into cubes
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
Either: 600ml homemade beef or lamb stock (for red meats) or homemade chicken stock (for poultry/rabbit)
Or: 2 tsp organic soy sauce (OR beef stock powder) AND 600mls boiling water
Cornflour or similar to thicken (see variations below)
Meat may be browned with onions and garlic before assembling, but I only do this when cooking in pot on stove, and occasionally if I'm cooking it in the oven. Otherwise, I assemble all ingredients raw and then cook together in oven or crockpot.
Place ingredients in order given into crock pot or oven proof dish and stir to combine. Cook in crockpot on auto or low for approx. 6-7 hours, or in covered dish in oven at 180C (350 F) for 1.5 hours. Stir 2-3 times during cooking.
The photo to right shows assembled ingredients before cooking. The picture above shows it after cooking.
If cooking in pot on stove, brown meat with onion and garlic, then add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer on low for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Thicken before serving by adding cornflour mixed with water, stirring, and cooking for another 10-15 mins. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice and green vegetables. Serves 6-8
Stew Variations and Hints
- When I first used this recipe, many years ago, I used to add flour at the beginning of the assembly process to produce a nice gravy at the end, but I learned over time that cooking it without the flour means you don't get any bits burning at the edges, and the dish stays a lot cleaner. It is also easier to thicken it just the right amount at the end. However, if you wish to include flour at the beginning, place meat, onion and garlic in dish, add 1/2 cup flour and stir to coat everything, then add rest of ingredients and proceed as above. These days I thicken at the end with a cornflour/water mixture, or with rice flour/water.
- If using a gamey meat to make this dish - such as venison or duck - add 2 TBSP of vinegar to the mix -
this will tenderise the meat and completely eliminate any gamey flavour!
- You can add any veges you like to this dish. For a long time, we couldn't use onions because of my daughter's food allergies, and so I used leek instead of onion. I often add diced pumpkin or kumera (sweet potato) to it, and my kids love it if I add hunks of potato to the dish as it comes out flavoured beautifully by the meat liquid. Play around and discover your own combinations!
- You may have noticed that I use organic soy sauce in a many dishes, and never bouillon products. This is because stock powders and bouillon products are often loaded with MSG and other nasties, and I will not use them. Soy sauce acts as a natural flavour enhancer and adds that "beef stock" taste but is safer. Soy is naturally high in glutamates, so may not be suitable for those with glutamate sensitivities, but my daughter, who is allergic to MSG and most glutamates can tolerate it in small amounts. Use organic soy sauce and read labels to avoid nasty additives. Another alternative is to make your own stocks and use those in recipes. Homemade stocks make the best stew bases!
- Other cuts of meat may also be used - such as mutton neck chops. I often look for the cheapest stewing beef, or use meat from animals we butcher that is from the less-than-terrific cuts. When using neck chops, leave them whole rather than trying to cube them. Once they are cooked in this recipe, the meat will be fall-off-the-bone and melt-in-your-mouth tender!
- If cooking with a tougher type of meat, then lower temp to 150C after 30 mins, and cook for a total time of 2- 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender.
- If you're a bit short on meat, then use a lesser amount, and stretch it by adding a can of butter beans or chickpeas (rinsed)
400g gravy beef
1 can butter beans
2 carrots, 3 stalks celery
Some wizened mushrooms
About 1/3 cup diced tomatoes
Homemade beef stock
Cornflour for thickening
Because the stock came out of the fridge and was very gelled, when I mixed it all together, it looked like there was no moisture in the dish. But it quickly becomes liquidy in the oven, as the stock warmed and fluids are drawn from the veges and meat during cooking.