I love Jamie Oliver. Love him. Love his beautiful food and love that he is a man with a social conscience who puts his money where his mouth is. Love that he fully gets flavour. I also love that he performed an experiment that I have always wanted to do but could never be bothered. On his website I found a recipe for beef casserole and he says that he has tried both sealing the meat first and not sealing the meat and chucking it all in. I am delighted to report that he says there is no difference in the end result.
Sealing casserole meat before cooking is supposed to a) seal in the juices and b) create nice brown bits on the bottom to enhance the sauce. Which it does, but the trouble is it is a bit of a pain if you are in a hurry, because to be effective you need to put only a few pieces in at a time otherwise they stew, which at that point you don't want to happen.
So I found a bag of stewing steak from the fatted calf in the freezer (it seems like there are a thousand in there so I thought I'd better get cracking), and vaguely followed his recipe:
Beef and Root Veg Casserole (Jamie calls it Jools Favourite or some such if you want look here:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
handful of sage leaves (don't chop)
800g stewing steak, cut into cubes
salt & pepper, flour to dust
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered (or eighths if large)
4 carrots, peeled and quartered
(He had pumpkin and new potatoes in his as well, but I didn't have either, didn't matter)
2 tblsp tomato puree
1/2 bottle nice red wine
300ml beef stock
Heat the oven to 160C.
Heat a nice heavy pot on the stove and add a tablespoon of olive oil and a knob of butter. Add onion and sage and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until softened.
(Sorry for the blurry pic, I was having camera troubles)
Toss the meat in seasoned flour. I do this in a plastic bag. One tablespoon of flour should be enough.
Add meat to the pan with all the vegetables, puree, wine and stock. Mix it all together gently. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, put on the lid and cook in the oven 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Beautiful with mashed potatoes. Jamie made a gremolata of chopped rosemary, lemon zest and garlic which would have finished if off nicely. It was utterly delicious and I suddenly realised why: grass-fed beef has such superior flavour to grain-fed. All the more satisfying to know it is home grown too. Always buy grass-fed beef if you can. Worth every penny.
And since it is our 15th (gasp) wedding anniversary today I am cooking a slap-up dinner for the family, starting with some yummy looking seafood spiedini (on rosemary stalks) that Jamie did in the last issue of delicious magazine. I'll let you know if it works. He's a clever boy...