Every time Mark Doherty comes through we tend to get him to make a casserole - after all, he's good at it. Eventually I asked for his recipe. His first explanation was "Generally I make it up as I go along - you know, take sufficient meat, combine with suitable vegetables and cook until done", but luckily he later provided some additional detail.
- Preheat oven to 160º C
Butter or oil
- Heat some butter or oil in a casserole pan so it gets good and hot.
1-2 Onions, chopped fine
- Toss the onion in and stir until it starts to go slightly translucent.
[Optional] Salt and Pepper
- Meanwhile, take a plastic bag - without holes - and put in a bit of flour.
- You can - if you like - put some salt and pepper or other spices in with the flour to give the meat some pizzazz.
Meat, chopped into bite size chucks - Recommended meats are any cheap steak like flank, a pot roast (one of those things done up with string, in which case brown it whole, don't cut it up) or osso bucco (in which case plan on cooking it for two hours - yum yum!)
- Toss the meat into the plastic bag
- Blow the bag up slightly and hold it tightly sealed, so that you can toss the meat and coat it with flour.
- Fish the onion out of the pan
- Put some more oil or butter in if necessary
- Fry the meat. It should sizzle goodly going in.
- Don't try and cook it completely the goal is just to brown
the outside and sear the meat.
2 tablespoons flour
Butter or oil
- Fish the meat out and put in some more butter and a couple of tablespoons of flour.
- Quickly start stirring and turn the heat down a notch.
- There should be enough butter/oil to flour that there is none left free, but the flour is not dry.
- You want a kind of greyish-white sludge.
- Stir over medium heat until the flour sludge (technically it's called Roux, but...) starts to go golden brown. Exactly how brown is up to you - the darker, the stronger and more "caramelly" the result will be.
- Make sure to scrape up any bits of meat juices that got left behind and stuck to the pan during this process.
- Now the tricky bit. Add water, a little at a time and stir quickly - you want to thin out the roux without adding so much water that you get "water with sticky lumps" - although if you do, vigorous stirring will turn it back into thick gravy.
a pinch of salt
[Optional] curry powder
[Optional] a little chilli
[Optional] lots of paprika
- Add spices at this point - sliced garlic, curry, whatever you feel like. My favourite standard is a little pepper, a pinch of salt, a little chilli and lots of paprika - enough to turn the gravy a dark reddish brown.
2-3 teaspoons tomato paste
- Add a little tomato paste. Not too much unless you want a tomato-flavoured gravy, but maybe 2-3 teaspoons, to round out the taste.
Some solid vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnip, mushrooms etc), peeled and chopped
Meat and onions from above
- Toss in the meat and onions, plus whatever veges you feel like adding (carrots, potatoes, parsnip, mushrooms etc). I tend to go for solid veges since things like peas tend to turn into unidentifiable mush.
- There should be enough liquid to *just* about cover it all.
- Toss it into the oven at about 160º C for 1-3 hours (1 hour is usually fine, but there's essentially no upper limit - the longer you cook it the more tender everything gets). If you have pot with a close-fitting lid, it should need zero attention while cooking.