Slow-cooked Food Movement.
This hearty and rustic casserole will keep you warm this winter.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but the only thing I actually like about winter are the food possibilities. We are fortunate in Sydney to have a very mild winter season which might sound very inviting to some. For me personally, winter in Sydney is like being stuck between seasons, not really winter, and certainly not summer, spring or autumn.
“We are lucky to be able to escape to the European summer, usually for 5-6 weeks, longer if we can manage it. By the time we return to Sydney, we only have a few days remaining until Spring.”
From mid July we will be in the South West of France, in the department of Charente. Charente is in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and two of its largest cities are Angoulême and Cognac. We usually split our time between the farming community of Abzac, and the beautifully cosmopolitan, and famous city of Cognac. Our house is literally a short stroll to the cellar doors of Hennessy, Remy Martin, Martell and my personal favourite, Baron Otard.
The Farmhouse is located over 90 minutes drive from here and is deep in the countryside. The closest village is Abzac, and the nearest town is Confolens. There is no internet or television, just a very weak and intermittent mobile reception if you stand in the paddock and catch the passing breeze. It might just be enough for one Instagram post. You can read more about the Farmhouse, and our French neighbour Elisabeth who I cooked with last summer here. Follow my Instagram and Facebook page from mid July to take in all the food stories I’ll be sharing from France.
In the meantime, let’s get back to winter in Sydney. I have always adored the philosophy of the slow-food movement. I love its simplicity but more importantly its heartiness and comfort it provides during the cooler months. You know that feeling of walking into your home during winter? Outside it’s chilly and drizzling with rain, inside it is warm and the delicate smells of your slow-cooked favourite is bubbling lightly away. I crave that warm feeling of home cooked goodness.
This recipe is one that I created last weekend and I wasn’t going to post the recipe, however after many requests via Facebook and Instagram, here it is. It is a very simple recipe, and one that will certainly keep you toasty this winter.
Special mention: A great Beef Casserole is only possible with the perfect cut and quality of beef. Marcus from the Whole Beast Butchery in Potts Point recommended skirt steak as opposed to beef cheeks for my casserole recipe. I will be using skirt steak every time now for two reasons. One, the fat content is much lower, and secondly the beef holds together beautifully, whilst still melting in your mouth.
What you’ll need:
700 grams of skirt steak (cut into 3cm x 3cm pieces, lightly tossed in brown rice flour)
180 grams of swiss brown mushrooms, cut into quarters
3 large ripe tomatoes roughly diced
1 bottle of Petaluma Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (use 500ml which leaves a glass for you)
500ml Vegetable stock
1 leek sliced into 2cm rounds
2 medium sized carrots sliced thinly
2 celery stalks sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves chopped
Parsley and Thyme – a decent about of both finely chopped
1 Bouquet Garni
Olive Oil and a little butter for cooking.
Vegetables to accompany – I used steamed butter beans and broccolini. I also baked some cauliflower that was seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Add a light drizzle of some XV olive oil, and some butter and cook the vegetables (celery, carrot, leek), garlic, thyme along with the chopped parsley stalks for 4-5 minutes before placing them aside
- In the same pan or cast iron casserole dish, cook the mushrooms for 4-5 minutes before placing them aside in the same bowl as the vegetables
- Flour the beef (I use brown rice flour as it is far lighter) and pan fry a few minutes each side, again cooking in a little XV olive oil and butter
- Add some of the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the vegetables, and tomatoes and the remaining wine. Allow to simmer for 3 – 4 minutes before adding the vegetable stock
- Season well and place the bouquet garni in the centre of the casserole, leaving it on a low heat stirring occasionally. for 2hrs 20min – Alternatively place the casserole in the oven at 170 degrees for 2hr 20min.
I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment below with any questions you may have and I’ll get back to you very soon.
As always, Bon Appétit, Mike X