NZ Forest Native Birds

Steak and Mushroom Casserole

If you have a Crockpot (slow cooker) then you should be using it as much as possible to take advantage of the cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. Unfortunately, such cuts aren’t as cheap as they used to be; slow cookers themselves are responsible by causing an increase in demand for such meat. This is my own recipe and I use it frequently.

Steak and kidney with dumplings was always my favourite meal as a kid, but my husband won’t eat kidney so I use mushrooms instead. I don’t have children to feed so when we have dumplings I leave out the potatoes.

2 kg stewing steak (gravy beef, shin steak; whatever)
2 fairly large onions, chopped
2-3 large carrots, diced
100-200 g mushrooms, sliced
About a cup and a half of water
About 1 cup of flour
2 Oxo beef cubes (or use your own favourite stock powder or cubes)
A good slurp (about 2 TB) each of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce, soya sauce and Cerebra steak sauce (or whatever your favourite tomato sauce happens to be)
About 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or (my favourite, but it’s far from economical) 2-3 good shakes of Tabasco sauce. I enjoy this sauce so much I can’t resist it in spite of its horrendous price. It really does make all the difference to this plain but tasty casserole. And if you live in the United States it might not be expensive.

Trim excess fat from the meat and cut into bite-size pieces. Place everything in the slow cooker and give it a good stir to disperse the flour. You can mix the flour and water together first and pour it over the other ingredients if you prefer. Cook on low for at least 10-12 hours. If your meat is really tough, the longer the cooking the better. Because I need to persuade an 86-year-old to eat more meat (when living on her own she starved herself to a virtual skeleton and was seriously anaemic) I cook gravy beef for as long as 24 hours on low in my Crock-Pot.

I personally think an occasional stir of the stew makes for a better product, but leave it a good 3 hours before doing this. The stirring also helps you decide if the gravy is thick enough. I nearly always have to add more flour. My family like plenty of gravy and they like to be able to eat it with the meat rather than having to mop it up with bread. Adding extra flour can be done any time once the dish is at least halfway through the cooking time and all you have to do is put the flour on top of the stew and stir it in. I thoroughly disagree with the practice of browning the meat beforehand, by the way. It doesn’t improve the taste and it negates the purpose of the slow cooker by subjecting the meat to too high a temperature and toughening it before it even reaches the cooker. Also, if you brown the meat in the flour you can land up with a lumpy gravy. It’s way too much trouble anyway for the main purpose of browning, which was (as if you couldn’t guess!) to add colour. If the stock cubes and the sauces don’t make it brown enough you can always add gravy browning. Before serving you will need to adjust the seasoning. I nearly always have to add a few more stock cubes or salt.

To make your casserole go further and help fill the seemingly bottomless stomachs of growing children, serve with Dumplings.

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