I’ve had this recipe in my ‘to do’ file for years but every time I’ve flicked through, I’ve seen the words ‘prunes’ and ‘cinnamon’ in the ingredients list, hesitated and then….moved on. However, I finally decided to try it and, as a woman who has cooked hundreds of beef casseroles, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest! The eclectic mix of ingredients make for a fabulously rich sauce with beautifully intensified, silky flavours – everyone around the table was agreed – this is the best of all that we’ve tried: why did we wait so long? Try it, you’ll love it!
Serves 6 – 8
What you need…
1 x ovenproof casserole
600ml boiling water from kettle
2 beef stockpots
1kg braising steak, diced
600ml robust red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon works well)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cinnamon sticks
12 bay leaves
8 slices good quality streaky bacon, chopped
Knob of butter
12 small shallots, chopped
24 baby carrots
16 soft dried prunes
2 tablespoons plain flour
What to do…
The night before! Put the meat, wine, garlic, cinnamon and bay leaves into a large bowl, give them a quick stir and pop in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavours to develop.
The next day, preheat the oven to 150° / 300°f / gas 2.
In a small jug, dissolve the stockpots into the boiling water from the kettle (a small balloon whisk works really well). Set aside.
Drain the meat, reserving the marinade. Then dry the meat on kitchen roll.
Fry the streaky bacon in a large saucepan over a moderate heat until it starts to brown. Add the knob of butter and then the shallots, carrots, prunes and reserved cinnamon and bay leaves. Sauté until the shallots and carrots start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ingredients to your casserole dish.
To the pan, add the meat and brown. Tip in the flour, stir well and then reintroduce the shallots mixture. Whack up the heat to high and add the stock and the marinade. Bring it to the boil and then tip the whole lot back into the casserole dish, pop on the lid and then stick it in the oven. Cook in the oven for 2½ hours. The smell, as it’s cooking will be amazing! Take the casserole out and check that the meat is succulent by retrieving one piece and trying it – if it’s not quite falling apart in your mouth, pop it back in for another 15 minutes, but it should be done by now.
Once removed from the oven, leave to rest for 15 minutes and then serve with really lovely buttery mashed potato (naughty) or baked potatoes (good) as well as either boiled broccoli or a steamed leek and cabbage mix. Take your first forkful, and sit back and smile – the flavours really are sublime and frankly, you just want to keep eating more!
Waitrose Food Illustrated from several years ago!
Really easy and so worth it!