Saturday, 4 December 2010


While more climate change shenanigans are revealed in the latest Wikileaks scandal, covered here, I've elected to do a blog culinary interlude. I mean it's all very well arguing over CO2 and the climate with a bunch of people who won't listen, and won't engage except to regurgitate ad homs and bad science, but sometimes you just have to sit down and have a good feed.

The Bill Sticker culinary contribution today is my version of a family favourite, beef casserole, or as everyone else in the household calls it, Bifstoo! Yes, the exclamation mark is necessary, as it conjures up the enthusiasm with which this dish is always received. This is a family recipe, handed down the generations, and as such may be considered a form of heirloom.

Best made in batches of half a kilo or more, this is a very simple dish, simply prepared. What you'll need;

Stewing beef cut into half inch (12mm) cubes. If you have Venison, that's good too. This recipe works with any cheap cut of red meat; Moose, Elk, and even Bear, although a good seasoning of Rosemary is recommended if you're going to try it with Lamb. Kangaroo may also be good, although I've never tried it cooked this particular way.
Heaped teaspoon Bisto browning powder (Not the granules, and definitely not OXO or knorr)
Heaped teaspoon White flour or cornflour.
Salt & pepper
Big fry pan or Wok
Casserole dish
Water (About half a pint or 250ml)
Safety goggles (Optional)

Preparation time fifteen minutes
Cooking time 2-4 hours
  1. Cut the carrots into small slices about a quarter inch (6mm+) you'll need enough to form slightly more than a layer (or two) in the casserole dish.
  2. Wearing goggles if need be, dice up a large onion a bit bigger than the size of your fist. Throw in saucepan with half a cup (ish) of water and gently heat to 'sweat down' or soften. You may now discard the safety goggles.
  3. Mix equal amounts of Bisto and flour together dry.
  4. Dust cubes of meat with dry mix of flour and Bisto so they are liberally coated. You can do this by rolling in the mix of shake in a bag - whatever coats the meat best.
  5. In the Wok or large frying pan, put a dessert spoonful of cooking oil, no more, and put over a low heat. Drop coated beef into pan and fry until all the cubes are thoroughly brown.
  6. When all meat is browned off, add water, and with the remaining dry Bisto / Flour mix, make a cold gravy mix with a little water.
  7. Heat browned meat and gravy mix in pan, and add extra gravy mix to thicken (But not too much or this will come out like set concrete). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Throw meat, softened onions and sliced carrots into casserole dish. Put in oven at medium heat (About 350 Fahrenheit, 175 Celsius or Gas regulo 3).
  9. You can at this point prepare some vegetables. Mashed, boiled or roast potatoes are fine, and if you're feeling guilty, you can set up some broccoli, peas, french beans or similar (Asparagus is a bit OTT though). Do not begin to cook these yet.
  10. Now the important bit; put the kettle on, put your feet up, watch a movie, scurf the net, or read a book for at least an hour and a half. Alternatively go and chop some wood, walk the dog, or other physical exercise. The thing is about this dish, it needs at least a couple of hours to cook properly. This is an old fashioned stick to your ribs dish for snow days and weekends.
  11. The really good thing is that if the family throws a collective mardy and decides they don't want such solid nourishment right this minute, once cooled, store in portions and put in fridge or freezer for microwaving later. Do not give to pets, as afterwards they won't want anything else, and will have no truck with that crap you feed 'em out of a can. My dog gets the leftovers, and his empty food bowl does on average two laps of the kitchen floor. He's that desperate not to miss a bit. Stepkids love it, although they haven't the patience to prepare and cook it.
As an aside, during my student days I used to make this stuff for my own consumption, only to have one of my house mates (An irritating proselytising vegetarian) denounce it as 'dogfood' while I was eating. That was rich, coming from someone known to subsist on baked beans and junkfood. Last I heard, he'd developed some form of pernicious anaemia - couldn't happen to a nicer person. Hence my oft-expressed prejudice against Vegans etc. I don't mind people having a different dietary regime, just don't expect me to share your misery, that's all. As for being hectored by stupid politicians and 'health care professionals' advised by said sad acts to eat less meat - Fuck off.

P.S. I would have posted a picture, but Bifstoo disappears too quickly.


selsey.steve said...

"Mardy"! Not heard/seen that since leaving Nottingham, Lo, these fifty years ago.
Does smoke puther from your chimney? Is "Have you mashed yet?" a query as to whether tea has been made?

Bill Sticker said...

The North East Midlands is not my home turf, I think it's just linguistic overspill.

Related Posts with Thumbnails