Sunday, 17 March 2013

Beef, Bacon and Guinness Casserole


If there is one drink that is associated with Ireland it's got be Guinness. There are other Irish stouts, the cream liqueurs made famous by Baileys plus a variety of whiskeys but Guinness would top the Family Fortunes' poll. If you're not a fan of the black stuff then the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is to stick in some cooking. This is all the more appropriate if once the middle of March comes and the sky seems constantly full of snow; a hearty and warming casserole will do the trick.

I cook this meal in my slow cooker but if you don't have a slow cooker fear not as it is really a very easy recipe as it all goes in the dish and then cooked; so I have included the timings if you wish to cook it in the oven. One of my slow cooker tips is if you think you will be out too long even if you set it on 'low' then use a timer switch.

Since beef isn't the cheapest food item I used half beef and half cooking bacon (usually has some smoked bacon in for flavour). You can vary the quantities but don't put more than 50% bacon in as this will overpower the taste of the beef. As there is quite a bit of bacon in the recipe I don't put any extra salt in but if you think it needs more then add according to personal taste. The addition of caster sugar is to counter the bitterness of the Guinness so if you use a sweeter stout or beer you may want to leave the sugar out.

This recipes uses half a bottle of Guinness so the question is what do you do with the rest of it? You could raise a glass to St. Patrick and drink it with the meal. Alternatively if you have a number of guests make double or just make double anyway and freeze the second portion. A nice way to round off the meal would be to finish off with a slice of Chocolate Guinness Cake, which rather conveniently uses half a bottle of Guinness.

Ingredients

12oz (340g) Braising or stewing steak, diced
12oz (340g) Cooking bacon, diced
1 Large onion, sliced or 8 whole small onions or shallots
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp (5ml) Mustard (I used Dijon but English or French would be fine)
1 tsp (5ml) Creamed horseradish
1 tbsp (15ml) Caster sugar
½ pint (300ml) Beef stock
½ bottle (250ml) Guinness
If required to thicken use either 1tbsp (15ml) cornflour mixed with 1tbsp (15ml) water or add some instant gravy granules.

Serve with Champ and vegetables of your choice

4 Large potatoes, peeled and diced
1bunch Spring onions (scallions), chopped
¼ pint (150ml) Double cream or milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Method 

1. Pre-heat the slow cooker to high or if using an oven 170°C/Gas Mark 3
2. Put all the casserole ingredients except the cornflour/gravy granules in the slow cooker or casserole dish.
3. Leave to cook on low for 7-9 hours, on high for 4-6 hours or in the oven for 1¼ hours. That is it – really!
4. Turn off the slow cooker or oven while you prepare the Champ. If you think the casserole needs thickening do so now. Keep the slow cooker dish covered and on the stand or the dish in the oven.
5. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and then cook until the potatoes are tender – around 20 minutes.
6. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan.
7. Over a low heat mash the potatoes and then mix in the spring onions and the cream or milk. Add any seasonings required. Heat through gently but do not boil.
8. Serve with the casserole and vegetables.

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