I don't know about you but in this cold, the last thing I want to do is go for a run. In fact, all I'd really love to do is stay in bed, hibernate and have my imaginary maid bring me bowls of by Mum's English Casserole. This is a recipe from my childhood. Perfect hearty comfort food for the cold and made with love. Casseroles can be made with or without meat and they're stuffed with veggies so you get a few of your 5-a-day too.
Mum's English Casserole
Serves 4-6 people
Prep time 30 minutes
Cooking time approx. 2.5 hoursFor the casserole
4 tbsp of cold pressed olive oil
1lb of beef stewing steak, chopped into bite-sized pieces **
2 tbsp of flour
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large red onion, cut into large pieces
4 large sticks of celery, roughly chopped
4 large carrots, cut into large pieces
2 medium to large leeks, roughly chopped
1 large turnip (the Brits use swede) cut into large chunks
1/2 cup of red wine
1 1/2 cups of beef stock
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp parsley
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings
1 cup of flour
1 tsp of baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup of suet, suet is hard to find in Canada, all vegetable Crisco is what I use here making it a vegetarian/vegan option too.
water, to make a dough
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a casserole dish add the oil and when heated, fry the beef until browned on all sides. Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic and all of the vegetables and fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, herbs and the wine. Add the Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with a lid and put the dish into the oven and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
For the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the Crisco and enough water to form a thick dough – a table spoon at a time (so you don't overdo it and end up with slop). Once you have a dough, roll into golf ball size balls.
Once the casserole has been cooking for 2 hours, place the dumplings on top of the stew. Cover the dish with the lid, return to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes until the dumplings are swollen and tender.
Serve and enjoy. This dish can also be served with mashed potatoes.
* To make this a vegetarian / vegan option just emit the beef and switch the beef stock for a vegetable stock. This recipe is still delicious without the meat.
** When buying meat, it is better to buy happy meat. By happy, I mean animals that are raised on farms with access to the outdoors, fed a vegetarian grain and raised without hormones and antibiotics. This makes for less toxins in your food which means less harmful stuff in you.