Casseroles

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Spring was definitely in the air last weekend.  It was still chilly, especially in the early morning and evening, but when the sun was shining one could actually feel the heat from it.  Early Spring blossom has started to appear on the trees in Bristol and the daffodils are very much in flower.  So it might seem odd that I chose to cook rather wintry, comfort food dishes, but I thought I’d better get them in before temperatures really do rise.

 

Lancashire Hotpot

My husband says I can’t possibly write a post about this meal because we didn’t take a photo of it, but, with apologies for the lack of illustration, I’ve decided to do it anyway.  It was a success and the ideal thing to cook last Saturday when I had plenty of time in the morning but wanted to watch England play Wales in a crucial Six Nations rugby match in the afternoon.  Honestly, as you will see, this hotpot is more or less just an assembly job.  While I was preparing it I managed to keep an eye on the Italy v Ireland match.

For the ingredients, I more or less followed Felicity Cloake again and make no apologies for that.  Here is what I did.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • 6 lamb cutlets
  • 400g diced lamb shoulder
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 3-4 large, floury potatoes
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300ml stock (Felicity says lamb stock, but I used a homemade chicken one because that’s what I had in the fridge, and it was fine.)
  • 20g melted butter, plus extra to grease.

Method

  • Dust the meat with the flour and seasoning.  Peel and slice the potatoes thinly.
  • Butter a casserole which has a lid.
  • Put a layer of overlapping potato slices in the bottom of the casserole, season them and sprinkle with a little thyme.
  • Put the meat and bay leaf on top, followed by the onions and some more seasoning.
  • Top with the remaining potatoes, overlapping them again.  Season these and pour on the stock, which should not come above the topping.
  • Brush the potatoes with the melted butter.
  • Put the lid on and place the casserole in the simmering oven.  Cook for 4-6 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, remove the lid and transfer to the roasting oven to brown the potatoes.

I placed it in the oven at about 2pm and then all I had to do when we were ready to eat was steam some carrots (in the simmering oven of course) and cook some cabbage.

 

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By the way, for afternoon tea on the sofa, in front of the England v Wales match, we had buttered slices of this delicious “hot cross” fruit loaf which I’d bought in the morning from the Bordeaux Quay stall at Whiteladies Road Market.

 

 

 

Simple Stroganoff

This beef stroganoff, based on Delia Smith’s recipe, has the flavours of “proper” stroganoff but the advantage that it can be made ahead instead of at the last minute; it’s ideally suited to Aga cooking.

Ingredients

(Serves 4 people)

  • 700g fairly lean braising beef
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 275 ml dry white wine
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced if large
  • 250ml sour cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method

  • Cut the meat into thin strips, about 5mm wide and no more than 6cm long.
  • Melt the butter in a casserole and soften the onion in it in the simmering oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  • Place the casserole on the boiling plate and brown the beef in batches.
  • Once the meat is browned, move the casserole to the simmering plate and return the beef and onion to it.  Season and pour in the wine.
  • Bring to simmering point, put on the lid and let it cook in the simmering oven for 3-4 hours.
  • An hour before you want to eat, stir in the mushrooms, cover and return it to the oven.
  • Taste to check seasoning, stir in the sour cream with a good grating of nutmeg.  Don’t let the cream boil.
  • Serve with plain boiled rice and perhaps some broccoli or a green salad.

Depending on the weather, perhaps my next posts will move on to lighter, fresher dishes.

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8 thoughts on “Casseroles

  1. Your blog is fast becoming a go-to for family recipe ideas, Annette. I wonder if you’ll get comments from indignant Lancastrians that the only possible way to make hotpot is their way and that, being from Bristol, you just couldn’t possibly understand!

    I adore stroganoff but I’ve always made it as a last minute thing. Perhaps I’ll try your recipe. I have often substituted the beef for assorted mushrooms: mushroom stroganoff is very tasty too.

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  2. I tried your hotpot recipe …. well ….I relayed it to my friend who tried it and I ate it !
    It was delicious and I’m sorry we didn’t take a photo ….but my friend was too self-conscious …… She enjoyed it too ……………………..
    and she is a northern lass, though from the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

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  3. I’m a bit late here. But love the idea of long cooks in the simmer oven. We’ve owned our two oven Aga for less than a year now. I’m still learning. And I live in Indiana and know no one who has one let alone heard of one. I love it. I adore it!
    Any suggestions for things i could leave in the simmer oven while i’m out to work for a block of nine hours? Long time I know. Perhaps if I put something together the night before and fridged it then took it out and popped it in the oven cold just before out the door. I’ve been meaning to experiment but i hate to waste food in case it didn’t turn out.
    I am going to try the above recipe some Saturday when I’m around to take it out. Lamb is so yummy! Thanks for the post!

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  4. So glad you love your Aga. I think you could leave either of the above casseroles in the simmering oven all day. Ditto the ragù which I wrote about in February 2016. I often leave a whole pork belly in all day and the same goes for a shoulder of lamb. Other meat cuts that lend themselves to slow cooking are pork shoulder and beef shin. In fact there are several recipes around for 24 hour slow roasted pork shoulder. But it doesn’t have to be meat. I’ve left tomato sauce for pasta in there for hours: if it’s for as long as 9 hours I’d probably leave the lid on the pan and remove it on returning home to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. It is hard to spoil food in the Aga simmering oven! Finally, I am planning to write up some slow-cooked chicken recipes soon so watch this space. Thank you for reading.

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