How to casserole meat
1. The myth is that slow cooking is a lot of bother and takes too much time. The truth is that it doesn't in fact take any more time than other cooking; the only time taken up is whilst it sits happily all by itself in the oven, leaving the cook blissfully free to get on with other things. Without getting too technical, I think it is worth noting that in most cases, forequarter meat (which comes from the front half of the animal) is best for slow cooking.
2. I think that the flavour of the finished dish is improved enormously if you take a bit of time and trouble over initially browning the meat. For this, cut the meat into bite-sized, 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes and cut the kidney into very small pieces so that it will almost 'melt' when cooked.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon of beef dripping in a large flameproof casserole until very hot.
4. Pat the cubes of meat with kitchen paper and add them, a few at a time, to the pan. Don't overcrowd the pan – only about 5 or 6 pieces at a time. It's tempting to shove the whole lot in and cut corners but, if you do, too much steam will be created and you will never, ever brown the meat.
5. Brown the pieces on all sides in batches, removing each batch before you add the next. It will take about 1 minute on each side to give a nutty, crusty edge, which will give flavour and colour to the finished dish and help to seal in the juices. Do the same with the kidney, adding more dripping to the pan if necessary.
6. Brown roughly chopped onions in the same way and add these to the meat and kidney.
7. You can add mushrooms as well as the kidney, or instead of it – some people will never want to eat kidney! Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. The thick gravy is achieved by adding plain flour.
8. The flour is absorbed by the fat and meat juices – it won't look very promising at this stage, but this is not a problem.
9. All you do next is add beef stock, stirring well, then bring it up to simmering point.
10. Put the lid on the casserole and place it in the centre of a pre-heated oven, gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). Leave it there for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
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