I’ve called this dish a casserole even though I made it with a 1 kg piece of beef topside ( as a pocket roast). It would work very well with pieces of stewing or chuck steak. You don’t need much liquid in the clay baking dish, so you can be flexible about how much stock or wine you include – depending on the source of your tomato flavouring and how much juice it includes. Mushrooms hold quite a lot of liquid too. Alternatively you could leave the stock/wine option out and soak the dish in water prior to adding the ingredients; that will provide plenty of moisture for a tender bake.
This pictured dish is a smaller (Mach 1) version of the baking dishes that I now have available.
100-200ml red wine or beef or vegetable stock (the amount depends on how much liquid you’ll be adding with the tomatoes
4 large flat head mushrooms coarsely sliced
2-4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
Equivalent of 3-4 med sized Tomatoes: fresh, frozen or canned, or 1 – 2 Tbsp Tomato paste
1 fresh bay leaf or a couple of dried ones
A small bundle of thyme sprigs
A handful of parsley, chopped
Root vegetables (optional) med sized pieces of Potatoes, kumera, pumpkin, marrow would go well with these flavours.
Add all the ingredients to your dish with the herbs, mushrooms and tomatoes mixture around the meat.
Mound up med sized pieces of your root vegetables to fill the cavity in the lid with if you would like to make full use of the cooking space and flavours.
Cook for 1 & ½ hours approximately on med heat (150 C) . This can vary of course: tough and gristly cuts benefit deliciously from a slower longer cook ( say 120 C for 2 hours), Chopped stewing steak usually cooks faster than a ‘roast’ cut piece of topside. The potatoes can go in part way through the cooking, though I find they do need an hour in the baking dish at med temperature.
Cooking on the stove top
When cooked, remove the root veges and lift the ‘roast’ out and leave it under the lid to rest. You can place your baking dish with the stock immediately on a very low gas flame or element. It will come to a simmer quite quickly. As long as the dish is still very hot and has liquid in, it is safe to make a gravy in it. (Be sure to turn the element off underneath it when it’s done so that you don’t risk putting it back on the heat source after you have served the gravy. Sadly I’ve lost a favourite cooking pot that way.)
To make the gravy
Beat a couple of tablespoons of your preferred flour with cold water to a thick smooth paste and pour it gradually into the simmering juices, stirring rapidly to prevent lumps forming. Once your gravy reaches the desired thickness stop adding the flour. Simmer for a minute or two to cook the flour and its ready.
Slice the meat and slide it back into the dish to sit in the gravy and serve from there.