I’m feeling posh this week – I’ve just discovered the difference between a ‘stew’ and a ‘casserole’. Stews are boring old stovetop one pots, but casseroles are a far fancier French word to describe pretty much the same dish slow cooked in the oven.
Whichever, whatever, the season for them is NOW and they are an awesome Vegie Smuggling tool to have in your kitchen arsenal. Many of you will be dragging out the slow cooker, but I’m just as happy with my Le Creuset (see, more posh French affectations) and heat from any source.
I’ve just perfected a new Chilli (without the chilli) recipe, which is almost ready to be printed and bound into the new Vegie Smugglers 2 cookbook (which should be on sale later this year). It’s got a few vegie smuggling techniques in it – 1. stacks of vegies (including kidney beans); 2. you can make a double batch and freeze it in portions (ready to defrost on those horror nights that end off a horror day) and; 3. you can easily adapt it to suit the various taste buds of the various members of your family.
Being a bit of a pig, I like mine with a bit of everything – tomato, avocado, cheese and corn chips. Keeping the kid’s health in mind, you can make a couple of corn chips go a long way if you crunch them up. Keep the majority of them just submerged so that the kids have to dig and catch some of the good stuff too and just scatter a trail over the top as a lure to get them started.
And did I mention that as it cooks away your house will smell like heaven and you can have an ‘uber-mummy’ moment when everything in your home is just how it should be.
And don’t forget, while you’re waiting (for the chilli and the new book), you can still purchase the original Vegie Smugglers cookbook, which I’ve heard described as ‘tres magnifique’.
Chilli (with no chilli)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2–3cm cubes
2 onions, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin powder
800g can chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
¼ cup red wine
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp sugar
400g can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 green capsicum, seeded, finely diced
Finely diced avocado
Finely diced tomato
Grated cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Use paper towel to pat any moisture off the meat. Add the butter to the pan and when foaming, add the meat. Don’t overcrowd the pan; usually you will need to do this in two batches.
Turn the meat and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Add a little more oil, if needed, and cook the onion and carrot for a couple of minutes over medium heat until softening. Add the garlic and cumin and stir for 30 seconds then add the tomatoes, stock, wine, herbs and sugar. Return the meat to the pan. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat right down. Cover and cook for 1½ hours, stirring every half hour or so.
Remove the lid, taste and season with salt and black pepper, then add the kidney beans and capsicum and simmer uncovered for another half hour. It will be cooked now, but if you have time, leave on a really gentle simmer for up to 3 hours.
Serve with avocado, tomato, cheese and broken corn chips. Slices of sourdough are also delicious!
SERVES 2 ADULTS & 3 KIDS