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The COOK Guide to Casseroles

Posted on 23 March 2020

 

Jamie is a chef who’s been with COOK for years. What he doesn’t know about batch cooking isn’t worth knowing. Here are his tips for turning what’s knocking around your fridge into delicious family meals. If you’re looking for a veggie recipes, check out the one for our Chickpea Curry.

This is the mother of all casserole recipes and is great with either lamb, beef, chicken legs, pork or even sausages. Makes around six decent portions. Scroll down for more adventurous versions, under ‘Casserole Hacks’.

 

Ingredients

One of the following:

Lamb - 1.4-1.5kg boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2.5cm pieces

Beef – 1.3Kg braising steak, trimmed of any excess fat and cut into 2.5cm pieces

Chicken – 6 bone-in chicken legs split into thighs and drumsticks

Pork – 1.4-1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2.5cm pieces

Sausages x 8-12

50g plain flour

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

250g smoked or unsmoked Bacon lardons, or back or streaky bacon cut into lardons (optional)

1 large onion, finely chopped (this can be substituted for red onions or shallots)

6 medium carrots (about 600g), peeled and cut into 2.5cm pieces (this can be an assortment of root vegetables up to the weight of 600g)

4 large celery sticks, sliced (these can be substituted by adding extra root vegetables if not being used)

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme if using beef, and add some sage also if using Chicken or Pork)

200g of Red/White wine. Cider will work well with the diced pork and sausages (optional)

400g (1 tin) of chopped tomatoes

600ml stock (ideally lamb stock for lamb, beef stock for beef, or chicken stock if chicken or pork)

3 bay leaves

300g Kale washed and drained

Salt & Pepper to season

 

Method

For the Lamb/Beef/Pork/Chicken: Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the bowl and toss until coated. Shake off the excess flour and reserve. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a flameproof casserole or large nonstick pan, add half the meat and fry over a high heat until browned on all sides. Lift out to a plate and repeat with the rest of the meat. Set aside.

For the sausages: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a flameproof casserole or large nonstick pan, add half the sausages and fry over a high heat until browned on all sides. Lift out to a plate and repeat with the rest of the sausages. Set aside.

Add the bacon (if using) to the pan and cook over a medium heat until golden brown. Add the onion and, if needed, the remaining oil, and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Add the carrots and celery, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic, Wine/Cider (if using) and herbs and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir the reserved flour into the veg (add all the flour if cooking the sausages), followed by the chopped tomatoes, stock and bay leaves, and bring to the boil, stirring. Return the meat to the pan, part-cover, lower the heat and leave to simmer for 1-2 hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened (the sausage version will only take 45 mins).

Alternatively, you can cook in a covered casserole dish in the oven at 150c for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not catching on the base. Discard the bay leaves add the wash/drained Kale, pop the lid back on for a further 2 minutes to cook and season to taste. If the casserole is a little too thick add a little more water and season to taste.

 

Casserole Hacks

  • If you want to be adventurous, add some of those unused spices sitting at the back of the cupboard.
  • A teaspoon of Paprika or a pinch of Chilli when adding the tomatoes would work wonders with the beef, chicken, diced pork and sausages.
  • A teaspoon of English Mustard and a drizzle of Worcester Sauce to either the pork or sausage casserole when adding the tomatoes.
  • Go Moroccan by removing the bacon and kale adding ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric, 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin, and 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger when adding the tomatoes and a drizzle of honey at the end. Hey presto, you have a great tagine.
  • To create a French classic try adding an extra red wine and substituting the celery, kale and half the weight of carrots with button mushrooms and whole shallots (or chopped onions) to make a cracking Beef Bourguignon or Coq au Vin.
  • For the dare devils out there, use Madras Powder (or generic Curry Powder) to create a slow-cooked Indian Curry. Simply remove the bacon, carrots, kale, herbs and celery, add an extra chopped onion along with 2 teaspoons of madras powder (if extra hot use 1 teaspoon). If you have a Cinnamon Stick pop it in with the tomatoes along with any other Indian spices knocking around. Finish with chopped coriander and a dollop of natural yoghurt, if available.

 

Sides Dishes

Serve with mash – white potatoes, sweet potatoes, new potatoes would work well – or rice, cous cous, or whatever pasta you have available would also work well. And some extra veg would be well worth adding, even if it’s just frozen peas.

 

Save Some for Later

The casserole keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge or freezes well for up to 6 weeks. When placing in the fridge, allow the casserole to cool for 45 minutes to an hour in a cool place then place into a unlidded tub then into the fridge. Once chilled, you can put the lid on the casserole dish. If you want to freeze some, just dish into clean Tupperware in the portion sizes you’ll need - just ensure it’s absolutely piping hot when reheating and do not refreeze.

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