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Author Topic: CASSEROLES  (Read 545 times)
« on: June 11, 2009, 07:17:59 pm »

Casseroles cheap but choice

By JAN BILTON - The Marlborough Express | Thursday, 04 June 2009

NO HURRY: Moroccan chicken and spinach casserole. The Moroccan seasoning provides good colour and flavour.  JAN BILTON/The Marlborough Express.

NO HURRY: Moroccan chicken and spinach casserole.
The Moroccan seasoning provides good colour and flavour.
JAN BILTON/The Marlborough Express.

Warm up winter and keep a tight rein on the food and power budget by making the most of your oven with inexpensive meat and seasonal veges.

Casseroles are the delight of anyone who wishes to serve delicious meals that don't require either constant supervision or a flurry of last-minute preparation.

In these uncertain economic times it can be difficult to balance the household budget and still create meals that please the whole family. The casserole is a nutritious, satisfying answer because cheaper choices of ingredients can be used to produce a dish that tastes like a gourmet treat.

Of course, the savings do not end there. Fuel costs can be lowered by using the oven only to cook the whole meal. Vegetables can either be wrapped in foil or placed in casserole dishes and cooked at the same time as the meat.

A key to obtaining the best flavour is to brown the meat in oil first especially beef and lamb until it takes on a good colour. Make sure you brown the meat in small batches otherwise it will `stew' in the oil rather than brown. And when cooking the casserole in the oven, keep the temperature low slow cooking ensures tenderness and a rich mingling of flavours.

Most casserole recipes lend themselves to a slow cooker. This method of cooking requires less moisture reduce it by one-quarter.

Cuts of meat suitable for casseroling or slow cooking are:

Beef: shin, gravy beef, chuck, skirt, thin flank, thick flank, blade and topside.

Lamb: boned forequarter, flap, round neck chops, shoulder chops, leg meat.

Pork: belly pork, pork pieces, foreloin chops, foreloin and leg meat.

Chicken: whole chickens and chicken portions can be casseroled.


There is no need to brown the meat first the Moroccan seasoning provides good colour and flavour.


  • Spray olive oil
  • 250g spinach, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 small skinned and boned chicken breasts or 2 large chicken breasts, halved
  • 2-3 tsp Moroccan seasoning
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced


  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Lightly spray a 26 x 22cm shallow casserole dish with oil.
  • Place the spinach in the casserole and sprinkle with pepper.
  • Place the chicken breasts on top.
  • Sprinkle with the Moroccan seasoning.
  • Top with the tomato and spring onion.
  • Cover tightly and cook for 40 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Serves 4.



  • 6 lamb shoulder or neck chops
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp each: tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 cups chicken or beef stock


  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Remove any excess fat from the chops.
  • Season with salt and pepper and dust with flour.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan.
  • Brown the meat on both sides.
  • Remove to a casserole.
  • Saute the onions and garlic for 1 minute.
  • Add the sauces, vinegar, sugar and curry powder.
  • Simmer 30 seconds then pour over the meat.
  • Add the grated apple and stock.
  • Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
  • Remove surface fat before serving.

Potatoes, kumara or pumpkin could be baked at the same time.

Serves 6.


An unusual, delicious, vegetarian casserole.

Canned beans could be added for extra protein.

Or the casserole could be served alongside roasted or casseroled meat.


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 20 pickling-sized onions, peeled
  • 2 cups peas
  • cup vegetable stock
  • 2 medium lettuces


  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  • Add the carrots and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Season, then add the mushrooms and onions.
  • Continue cooking another 3 minutes.
  • Place in a large casserole and add peas and stock.
  • Discard the outer leaves of the lettuces then coarsely break up the remaining leaves under cold, running water.
  • Cover the vegetables in the casserole with the lettuce.
  • Cover and cook for 1 hours.
  • Check the amount of liquid present halfway through cooking.
  • Add a little more stock, if required.

Serves 4.



  • 6 Italian-style sausages
  • spray oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 rasher bacon, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tamarillos, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp each: balsamic vinegar, cornflour, soy sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Meanwhile, lightly brown the sausages in a frying pan sprayed with oil.
  • Remove and cut into halves or quarters. Place in a casserole.
  • Saute the onion, bacon and mushrooms, until browned. Add to the casserole.
  • Add the tamarillos to the pan with the brown sugar, vinegar and cornflour mixed to a paste with the soy sauce.
  • Bring to the boil. Pour over the sausages and onion mixture.
  • Cover and cook in the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Potatoes can be baked at the same time.

Serves 4.

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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 02:49:14 am »

Steak of origin

By GRAHAM HAWKES - The Southland Times | Saturday, 20 June 2009

WINTER COMFORT FOOD: Beef and Invercargill Brewery Pitch Black Casserole.

WINTER COMFORT FOOD: Beef and Invercargill Brewery Pitch Black Casserole.

Having to check the country's 20 best steaks for their tenderness, taste, juiciness and texture was no easy job, but that was the role I found myself in recently along with rugby great Colin (don't call me Sir) Meads, and the Honorable Minister of Justice Mr David Carter.

With better than 350 entries, this year's Steak of Origin competition proved to be the best yet. The competition run by New Zealand Beef & Lamb involved all the porterhouse (strip loin) cuts from all the entries firstly go to Professor Roy Bickerstaffe of Lincoln University who put them through their first series of paces, testing each sirloin for pH, percentage cooking loss and tenderness, as determined by a tenderometer, which is calibrated to mimic a human's bite giving a shear-force reading.

The top 20 per cent in each of the five classes best of European breed, best of British breed, best of crossbreed breed, best of brand/retail, and best of brand/ wholesale and foodservice then went through to a semifinal at Cafe Valentino in Christchurch where a panel of ten judges comprising chefs, dietitians and meat industry personnel critiqued the steaks on aroma, texture, tenderness and taste to choose the top four in each category.

The top four steaks in each class were again tested, this time being tasted by the public at Countdown Church Corner in Riccarton, Christchurch, with the public score contributing 10 per cent of the final mark with the grand champion announced at the final during a Beef Expo dinner.

At the final, a local chef cooked the country's 20 finest beef steaks during pre-dinner conviviality for all to see. All the steaks were cut to the same thickness and trimmed to the same specification then brushed with a non-flavoured oil and cooked to "rare to medium" and rested for five minutes before being presented to the judges.

It was then we had the onerous (but enjoyable) task of taste testing these 20 great steaks for their tenderness, taste, juiciness and texture. And my, what a test it was. I would have been proud to serve any one of these steaks at any time.

What was interesting this year was none of the finalists struck us as the outright winner during the actual tasting. They all had great qualities but also subtle points of difference.

This year the New Zealand Steak of Origin Challenge Grand Champion was a steak produced by Catherine Withers, of Rotorua, from a piedmontese-cross friesian and interestingly enough the Supreme Brand Award also went to a piedmontese-cross from the farm of Don Buchanan in Taumarunui.

Let's have a look at a great comforting winter dish using New Zealand Quality Mark beef.




  • 1kg Quality Mark blade steak
  • ¼ cup of rice bran oil
  • 4 medium onions peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and chopped garlic
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups Invercargill Brewery Pitch Black Beer
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 4 rashers bacon chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 18 dried prunes
  • Sliced rind of one orange


  • Cut the Quality Mark steak into 5cm cubes.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-base pan and brown the meat in batches.
  • Transfer the meat to a casserole dish that has a tight fitting lid.
  • Add the onions to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  • Sprinkle the flour and mix with the onions.
  • Once well mixed gradually add the stock and the beer and mix into a smooth sauce.
  • Pour the sauce over the meat and add the bacon, thyme, prunes and orange rind.
  • Place in a preheated oven at 160°C and cook for 2 hours.
  • Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Bon appetit!

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