I love my enamelled oval roaster, with its dimpled self-basting lid. It is as basic an essential as a cast-iron frying pan in my kitchen, and produces the most succulent and toothsome meat casseroles. Aye, and it is so simple to clean afterwards.
Well kids (aye, lads and lasses – it’s you I’m looking at!) – take 1kg of meat pieces. Mutton chops, cubes of mutton or lamb leg, cubed stewing beef, chunks of beef ribs, whatever. On the bone for better flavour. This technique will work with any cut of meat, but is especially good for the cheaper, tougher, and flavoursome cuts.
- Pre heat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1
- Coat the meat in seasoned flour
- My “classic” – mix together 2-3 tblsps flour, a generous pinch salt and grind of black pepper, 1-2 tsp of dried herbs (mixed dried, or thyme, oregano – whatever), and 2 tsps mustard powder.
- Choose a different combination of spices and/or herb for a meat curry, an Iranian-style stew, a Moroccan-style seasoning, or whatever.
- Brown the meat well, in small batches in a frying pan; transfer to the casserole dish.
- Chop an onion and fry in the same frying pan to clean up the savoury bits of meat and seasoning left; adding a very little water (or equivalent – tomato chutney, tomato puree, wine, or stock) will help clean the frying pan – and catch ALL the flavoursome bits. Pour into the casserole.
- Add 4 or 5 peeled cloves of garlic, 2-3 peeled carrots cut in generous chunks, 4-5 small onions (peeled) or a couple of larger onions peeled and quartered, with a couple of bay leaves. Maybe some tomatoes or tomato puree? Or potatoes? A sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary? Your call.
- Add about 750ml/1¼pt of water or stock, cover with the dimpled lid, and cook for 2 to 3 hours until the meat is “falling-apart-tender”.
- Serve with mashed potatoes – or whatever.
- Ideal for “cooking large”, and freezing portions for later meals. Then you can add butter beans, chickpeas, lentils, spinach, spices and/or herbs, whatever takes your fancy.