Thursday, September 06, 2007

blind cooking

No, not cooking for the vision impaired, or even blind baking – this is creating in the kitchen without tasting the food. It is a concept that is alien to me, not checking the seasoning, trusting only sight and smell. But twice recently I have cooked meat dishes for my parents, casseroles to tide them over for a few days before I fly off back to Australia. For years I couldn’t even contemplate the idea of smelling meat but at least their kitchen is well ventilated and the joy of casserole making is that most of the cooking is done safely enclosed in both a dish and the oven.

Considering it is at least 2 decades since I last ate meat, I can’t even think of when I previously cooked it and if I ever made a humble beef stew in my life. Some how, once learnt, the techniques never leave you. I’m told both versions of this dish were tasty and well appreciated. They are simple and surely no great variation on what has been made for years. But I will record them for posterity, just to show – though I don’t want to ever make it or smell it in my own home, there are some things you will do for your family.

Food I don’t eat any more #2 – Beef Casserole

quantity depends on how much you want to make – just play it by ear

mustard powder (optional)
olive or other vegetable oil
500-750 g diced beef (go for grass fed/organic where possible)
1 large potato, peeled and diced into chunks
2 carrots, sliced
1 large onion
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
mixed herbs, a large pinch
1 can tomatoes, chopped OR 1 large glass of red wine (something heavy like a cab sauv)
1/2 – 1 litre beef stock (avoid the nasty cubes and go for a preservative-free liquid version)
salt and pepper to taste

In a clean plastic bag toss in about 1/2 cup or more of cornflour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and a tsp of dry mustard powder if desired. Now throw in the diced beef and shake til coated. In a heavy based fry pan, heat oil and add the beef in batches, so they can seal on the outside (go a bit brown) without getting overcrowded in the pan and start stewing instead. When the meat has begun to brown place in a casserole dish. If you wish, deglaze the pan with some stock so all the meaty bits are scraped off and added to the casserole. Add all the remaining ingredients (veg, herbs, tomatoes or wine and seasoning) to the dish, cover and cook long and slow in the oven -160-180c for a couple of hours should be fine. If you’d like the gravy to be a bit thicker, put a couple of teaspoons of cornflour in a cup and scoop out a little liquid to thicken it into a paste, then add back to the stew.

I reckon mushrooms would be nice too.

This nostalgia dish is gluten-free, dairy-free but unfortunately is not vegetarian friendly.

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