Sunday, 7 December 2014
Big Beef and Tomato Casserole (to feed 30)
We volunteered to prepare a dinner for a shelter for the homeless at The High Street Baptist's Church in Merthyr Tydfil (something I recommend every one to do). This is what we put together with a view to feeding up to 30 people. If you don't have a commercial kitchen (as I don't) preparing this much food in one go is something of a challenge. We needed to borrow a very large cooking pot to make it possible. We also had to divvy up the work as you could do with 2 hands to halve how long the preparation takes. Any way,I'll shut up now and get on with the recipe.
4.5kg of Diced Beef
2kg Onions, peeled and chopped
3kg Carrots, peeled and sliced
2kg Bacon Lardons
4 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Whole 500g carton of Pasata
Whole 30g packet of fresh Thyme finely chopped
30g of powdered garlic (or garlic salt)
5 Bay Leaves
2kg Frozen Garden Peas
6 pints of Strong Beef Stock (made with 12 stock cubes)
If you are not used to cooking in these quantities, you need a bit of planning to pull it off. If two are sharing the preparation, you can work quick enough not to need to worry about chopped veg going brown or drying out. If working alone you will need to compensate for that by keeping your chopped veg in water (which adds its own problems of draining it off sufficiently to cook it properly). Either way, start by chopping all your onions and carrots and opening the tins you are going to need. Time things so that while you are prepping your other ingredients you can crisp up your bacon lardons - which takes 30 minutes. Turn on your oven to 190 degrees, then put your bacon lardons into two roasting tins and bake for around 30 minutes (or until crunchy). When done, drain off all the surplus fat and put into the pot you will be cooking in (or split it across the two pots if you can't get one big enough).
Then, with your helper, start to brown your onions about 2 or 3 handfuls at a time in each frying pan or wok. Don't over fill them. And use clean oil and a dollop of butter with every shift. Once they are softened and golden, ad them to you big pot with the crisp lardons. Repeat exactly the same process with your carrots, then brown your meat and add that. Once its all together in the pot, get a good fist full of plain flour and dust that over the top. Now add your garlic, your chopped thyme, your bay leafs a good dash of salt and ground black pepper and give the whole mixture a good stir (I snapped a perfectly good wooden spoon doing this so use something pretty sturdy).
Put the lot onto a medium heat, add your peas, chopped tomatoes, pasata and stock. Turn the heat up high, stirring your mixture so it does not stick. Then when it starts bubbling (which will take a while as there is so much of it), cover it and turn the heat down low and let it simmer for about an hour and a half.
Serve up with boiled potatoes.
I was truly humbled by my evening helping out at "The People's Kitchen" in The High Street Baptist Church in Merthyr Tydfil. It is wonderful work that you do and being a part of it for the short time that I was was a privilege. And appreciation shown by everyone involved for my contribution was over whelming. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.