Beef and Vegetable Casserole is a hearty winter meal. It’s basically a one-pot wonder and that makes it very easy to put together. All the prep work happens at the start so there’s no fussing about come dinner time. The whole meal just sits in the oven to cook until it’s ready.
When slow-cooked over several hours the beef will be so tender it falls apart. The sauce is a rich gravy that’s flavoured with the red wine and vegetables. It’s also great as a cosy Sunday lunch for the family in winter when it’s cold and rainy outside.
My recipe uses onion, carrot, celery, mushroom, potatoes and thyme but the combinations are endless. I often use this recipe as a base template for using up any leftover vegetables that are in the pantry. This beef and vegetable casserole is very flexible in that you can add almost anything and it still tastes great.
I’ve used pumpkin, green beans, Brussels sprouts, parsnip, among others. You can also elect not to add the potatoes to the stew directly. Instead make some mashed potato and serve it on the side. Either way works really well but I like the simplicity of cooking everything in one pot.
Feel free to adjust as you please to find your favourite flavour.
Prepare everything up front
As basically everything goes into the pot from the start, pre-chop all the ingredients. Get all the vegetables and herbs ready to go. Chop the mushrooms and potatoes and set them aside. Doing this in advance will make the cooking time stress free. Now you can easily throw it all into the pot when needed.
Once the chopping is done, it’s time to cook the beef. Due to the length of cooking time, don’t bother purchasing the best cut. This recipe is so foolproof the beef will be tender and juicy no matter what. I like to use something like oyster blade or chuck but any stewing cut of beef is fine.
When dicing, be sure to cut the meat into quite decently sized chunks. If they’re too small they will end up disintegrating into the sauce. I find about 3cm is a good size. This allows for the fact that the chunks usually shrink and halve in size by the time they are ready.
Cover the beef chunks in flour and season well. The flour adds more flavour to the meat by keeping all the juices together. It will also help to thicken the final gravy. Be sure to use a non-stick pan when browning the meat otherwise you’ll find the flour will stick. Adding a good glug of red wine should loosen any off the pan if you have the need.
Keep in mind that the flour will prevent the beef from turning a golden colour like it would when frying. Just colour the meat by getting it to an even brown shade then set aside. Don’t worry about cooking it all the way through – it’s about to cook for four hours!
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Tasty, saucy beef and vegetable casserole
The rest of the recipe is very straightforward. Combine everything in the pot and place into the oven for several hours. Depending on how large everything is diced, the cooking time can vary slightly. The general rule is the longer everything is in the oven, the better the final stew will taste. However, this is not a recipe that can be rushed to completion. Trying to cook the beef too quickly will end up with it being chewy and the sauce will be watery.
After the first three hours in the oven, test the meat with a fork. It should come apart easily. If it doesn’t it may need additional time. Similarly, keep an eye on the sauce to ensure it doesn’t reduce too much. It does need to thicken, but if it starts to get lower than the meat and vegetables, top it up with a little more water.
Like many rich stews, they improve with time. If you have the luxury of being able to prepare in advance, I highly recommend making the beef and vegetable casserole the day before. By leaving it overnight, the sauce will naturally thicken and all the flavours will combine to be even richer. It really makes everything taste even more delicious. If you’re planning on serving to dinner guests, it’s a great way to impress. The sauce will be silky smooth but full of a deep complex flavour that will keep everyone wanting more. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about a messy kitchen and can just focus on entertaining.
Just before serving garnish with some fresh parsley leaves. I also finely chop some parsley and stir it through the sauce while it’s still in the pot to add a touch more flavour. This recipe easily serves eight people, maybe even more depending on how hungry everyone is. If you end up with any leftovers, you can use the meat sauce as filling for a beef pie. It’s also great as a beef and gravy roll filling.
Beef and Vegetable Casserole, an easy comfort food recipe that’s all cooked in one pot. If you’re keen to try some more hearty winter cooking, be sure to check out my Beef Cheek Ragu with Pappardelle, Shepherd’s Pie and Beef Massaman Curry recipes. Enjoy!
Beef and Vegetable Casserole
- 1 kg beef, oyster blade or similar
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 brown onions, peeled
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 3 stalks celery, ends removed
- 8 sprigs thyme, stems removed
- 3 bay leaves
- 250 g button mushrooms
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 500 ml red wine
- 400 g tomato purée
- 750 ml beef stock
- 2 large potatoes, peeled
- 4 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- crusty bread, to serve
- Roughly dice the beef into 3cm chunks, trimming off any excess fat. Place into a bowl and cover with flour, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and set aside.
- Roughly chop the onions into large wedges. Dice the carrots and celery into large chunks of about equal size. Halve or quarter the mushrooms so they are a similar size to the other vegetables. Roughly chop the potatoes into large chunks and set aside in a bowl of cold water.
- Place a large oven-proof pot or casserole on high heat. Add the olive oil and brown the beef until lightly coloured on all sides. If any excess flour sticks to the pot, add a dash of the red wine and stir to loosen. Once the meat is browned, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC and adjust the oven racks to accomodate the casserole so it can cook in the centre of the oven.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and add some more olive oil to the pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions have softened. Add the tomato purée and mushrooms. Stir to combine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine, bring to a simmer and bubble for 2-3 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the beef and any juices back into the pot. Season well with salt and pepper then top with the beef stock until the contents are covered by about 3-4cm of liquid. Bring the pot to the boil then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.
- Cook in the oven for 3 hours, stirring about once every hour.
- Remove the pot from the oven and add the potatoes. Taste the casserole sauce and season as necessary. Return the pot to the oven with the lid askew and cook for a further 60 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened. If after 60 minutes the sauce needs to be thickened further, remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the stew is ready, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir about half the chopped parsley through the casserole. Serve in bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley and a side of crusty bread.
- Mix and match the vegetables to your liking – pumpkin, green beans, Brussels sprouts, etc. all go really well in this casserole.
- If you’d like to serve with a side dish, instead of putting the potatoes in the stew, make mashed potato and serve alongside.
- Although this casserole is great to serve straight away, if you leave the sauce to thicken overnight it will be even better the next day. If you have the time, prepare this dish the day before and after removing from the oven, let the pot cool completely before placing it in the fridge. When ready to serve, place the pot on the stove, add a little water to loosen the sauce, and reheat to serving temperature. This is especially good for entertaining as you can make everything the day before, keeping your kitchen clean when guests arrive.
- Any leftover casserole can be used as a meat pie filling or a sneaky beef and gravy roll.
Have you tried this recipe?
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