On est en plein vague de froid ici!
It’s seriously cold outside. Not Paris-in-the-winter cold (zéro degrés au bord de la Seine!), but still pretty cold for Australian standards. Even my dog is refusing to go outside, its that cold. With the weather so dismal, I find myself craving hearty, warming stews, which is exactly what I’ve prepared for you today.
This is a classic beef stew recipe, with a bit of an Aussie twist. I’ve used two Australian native ingredients in this dish: bush tomato and Tasmanian Mountain pepper berry. Bush tomatoes are the fruit of a small Australian shrub, which, when dried, have a flavour similar to a sun dried tomato, with a slightly caramel-like overtone. Pepper berries are similar to a peppercorn, but with a sharper flavour. Both ingredients can be sourced online or from specialty food stores in Australia. If you’re outside Australia and you can’t get your hands on either of these products, you can substitute peppercorns for the pepper berries and sun dried tomatoes (without a herb/oil marinade, if you can find some) for the bush tomato. [Please note that not all species of bush tomato are edible, and some are quite toxic, so it is safer to source them from a known producer than to go foraging for them yourself. Safety first!]
The best vessel to cook this in would be a large caste iron casserole dish. I use a Dutch oven, but any form of casserole dish that is suitable for both oven and stovetop would be sufficient. Caste iron casserole dishes are wonderful because they retain heat, which helps the food to cook evenly.
Personally, I think that we don’t use enough native ingredients in our cooking. Australia has a wonderfully diverse ecosystem, and there are all sorts of interesting and delicious native ingredients available to us, if only you know where to look. All it takes is some prior research and a little experimentation, and it is well worth the effort. So I do hope that some of you will try this recipe. As always, leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought. In the meantime, stay warm!!
Beef Casserole with Australian Native Herbs
700g gravy beef (or oyster blade), chopped into large chunks
2 large potatoes
2 sticks celery
2 tbsp tomato paste
a pinch of salt
2 cups beef stock
1tsp Tasmanian Mountain pepper berries
1 tbsp dried bush tomato
2 tbsp olive oil/garlic oil
- Preheat oven to 160ºC. Chop carrot, celery, parsnip and potatoes into large chunks (about 3cm). Place pepper berries and bush tomato in a mortar and pestle and grind until the berries are broken up into rough pieces.
- Heat oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the beef in batches and fry until browned on all sides. Add vegetables, bush tomato, pepper berries and salt and toss until the vegetables are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
- Add tomato paste and beef stock, and stir through. Increase the heat to high, and bring the stock to a boil.
- Once the stock is boiling, remove the casserole dish from the stovetop and place it in the oven. Allow to cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender and cooked through. (If you’re not planning to serve the casserole immediately, you can leave it to rest in the oven for half an hour or so.)
- Serve hot, with rice or damper.
Keeping time: 3 days in the fridge.