How to Cook a Casserole

Welcome to a simple and flexible guide to cooking a casserole. Casseroles are perfect for a warming meal and will always be welcomed by family, friends or guests at a dinner party. As well as the fantastic end product, cooking a casserole is a different "experience". It offers you time to put your feet up after all the ingredients are in the pan and also allows you to be as creative and imaginative as possible with the ingredients. The most important part of this guide is the method - the ingredients and quantities can be modified to suit your taste! This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients

  • Optional
  • Cooking oil or butter/margarine
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 500g diced beef or you can use 500g lamb/6 chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 can of butter beans/flageolet beans/kidney beans
  • 500 ml of beef/vegetable stock
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf*
  • Worcester sauce
  • Half a cup of red wine
  • A pinch of salt
  • Crusty bread

Time to cook

The recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare and about 90 minutes to cook.

Steps

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    Peel and dice the onion and the garlic in to fine cubes
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    Chop the mushrooms in half lengthways (or if using small mushrooms you can leave them whole)
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    Place your pan on a medium heat, with a tablespoon of cooking oil in it. When the oil is moderately hot (see tips below), add the onion and garlic to the pan.
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    Stir the onion and garlic until they appear light brown and feel soft with the end of the spoon.
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    Add the meat and spread it evenly around the pan. Stir this occasionally for the next 5 minutes. The aim is to seal the meat so it looks darker on the outside.
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    Drain the water from the can of beans and add them to the pan, with the mushrooms and any other vegetables you are using. Stir for 1 minute.
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    Add the stock and red wine to the pan. Ideally the liquid should only just cover all of the ingredients but you can top it up with cold water if not.
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    Add the stick of celery (whole or halved) to the pan. It will be removed at the end and the best taste comes from the leaves.
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    Add half a tablespoon of Worcester sauce, bay leaf and stir well. Taste a small amount of the sauce and add salt to your taste.
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    Turn the heat up and bring the ingredients to the boil. Then turn the heat down to low until the sauce is simmering. Cover the pan and cook for at least 90 minutes.
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    Return to the pan every 20-30 minutes to give it a good stir and keep an eye on the level of liquid - if it goes too low add more water or the ingredients will burn. The casserole is ready when the sauce is thick enough to stick to the spoon, and when the meat is soft - for the best results cook for 2 hours or more
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    Remove the celery from the pan and serve the casserole in large bowls or plates with crusty bread.
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    Finished.

Tips

  • Vegetable oil is healthier than butter
  • Don't worry if your stock doesn't match your meat!
  • Adding salt is less healthy, and you will already have some salt in your stock
  • Trim excess fat from beef or lamb, and remove the skin from chicken to make the casserole healthier
  • Personally, I like to wash meat before cooking it, but there are mixed reviews on its hygienic value

Warnings

  • If entertaining, check that your guests are not allergic to celery and leave it out if they are!
  • Don't let your oil burn! To check if the oil is hot, place your hand over the pan but do not touch the oil. If the palm of your hand feels warm then the oil is ready. Smoke is a sign of burning, be careful.
  • Make it to suit your taste! Here are some options: Use 1 large potato, peeled and cut in to cubes instead of the beans. Add it to the pan at the same time as the stock and the vegetables.Other vegetables that work well in casseroles are carrot, aubergine, sweet potato, green beans and cabbage, Or try it with your favorites!

Article Info

Categories: Basic Cooking Skills