Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Hearty Beef Casserole

I've yet to really fall in love with my slow cooker(s). For Chinese soups and congees, great. For big joints of red meat, such as a shoulder of lamb or pork, lovely. For melt-in-the-mouth slow-cooked beef flank and mooli, delicious. But for white meat and casserole, I haven't quite yet mastered it. Chicken is somehow lacking (maybe it's the uncrispy skin), and my casseroles end up more watery and thin than I would like, with the vegetables too soggy for my liking.

I bought some casserole beef from Sainsbury's on offer, and decided to try it in the slow cooker. I was looking to make something that didn't take too much faffing, and that I could chuck into the pot and switch on as I left the house in the morning. In order to get round previous challenges, I added pearl barley to the mix, and used Knorr beef gravy pots, which have a thicker consistency than beef stock. The result was attractive, and the boys cleaned their plates. There was a pleasant mix of textures - the beef was soft, the vegetables retained a tiny amount of bite, and the addition of soaked green split peas gave a nice, firm contrast. I prepared the vegetables the night before, then soaked them with the pearl barley and the split peas. It only took 5-10 minutes to prepare in the morning.



  • 400g casserole beef
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small swede, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup green split peas
  • 560ml beef gravy, made using two Knorr beef gravy pots
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
Serves 4-5



  • Peel the carrots and the swede, and dice into 1.5cm chunks
  • Wash and trim the ends from the celery, and cut into 2cm chunks
  • Place the carrots, swede and celery in a large pot of water, with the pearl barley and the green split peas. If you like, you can leave this in the fridge overnight
  • In the morning, place the soaked and drained vegetables into the slow cooker, along with the chopped onion and the casserole beef
  • Prepare the beef gravy according to the instructions on the pack. Place 2 gravy pots into 560ml of hot water in a pan, and heat slowly, whisking continuously. When the gravy boils, whisk at a gentle boil for one minute
  • Add the gravy to the slow cooker, along with the black pepper, the oyster sauce and the sugar. Mix well to combine, and push any bits of beef below the surface of the mixture, to prevent them from drying out
  • Switch the slow cooker onto low, and cook for 8 hours
  • Serve with mashed potato or steamed rice

Hearty Beef Casserole

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