When the weather is brisk, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like meat and vegetables cooked slowly for a long time.
The long cooking will transform the inedible collagen in meat into soft, melting gelatine. And you’ll end up with chunks of meat so tender you can cut them with a spoon.
What’s more, braising is ideal for cheaper cuts of meat.
There is little difference between a casserole or a stew, both of which start with the food first being seared at a high temperature.
For the slow-cooking part, stewing is done on the top of a stove, with heat being applied directly under the pot.
But the casseroles – it’s also the name for the deep dish – go into the oven, where heat circulates all around the pot, reducing the risk of burning.
With most recipes, the cooking methods are interchangeable. It’s really up to you which one you choose.
SPICY BEEF STEW
700g beef shin, cubed
30-40ml peanut oil
1 onion, chopped
10ml chopped garlic
10ml ground cumin
5-10ml chilli powder
5ml ground paprika
500ml chicken stock
2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
3-4 whole star anise
salt and pepper
60ml chopped coriander
Combine the flour and turmeric in a plastic bag. Add the beef and toss to coat.
Heat some oil in a pot and brown the meat in batches. Set aside.
Add a little more oil to the pot and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
Add the cumin, chilli and paprika and fry for a minute.
Return the meat to the pot and add the stock, lemongrass, potatoes, carrots, star anise and seasoning.
Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until the meat is soft.
Remove the lemongrass and the star anise.
Stir in the coriander and serve.
SPICY SEAFOOD STEW
30ml olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 red pepper, cubed
1 green pepper, cubed
1 yellow pepper, cubed
15ml chopped ginger
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
400g tin of coconut milk
500g firm white fish fillets, cubed
350g prawn tails
30ml lime juice
125ml chopped coriander
Heat the oil and fry the onion until soft.
Add the red, green and yellow peppers, ginger, garlic and chilli and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft.
Add the tomatoes and cook until soft.
Stir in the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, add the fish cubes and prawns and simmer until cooked.
Add the lime juice and season to taste.
Serve sprinkled with coriander.
PAPRIKA PORK CASSEROLE
5ml ground cumin
700g boned pork neck, cubed
375ml chicken stock
250g button mushrooms
400g tin of pineapple pieces with juice
125ml thick yoghurt
rice for serving
Combine the flour, seasoning and cumin in a plastic bag. Add the pork and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in a pot and fry the meat in batches.
Remove and set aside.
Add the garlic and paprika to the pot and fry for a minute.
Return the meat to the pot and add the stock, mushrooms, pineapple and juice and bring to a simmer.
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof casserole, cover and cook for 1-2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Combine the yoghurt and cornflour and stir into the meat just before serving with rice.
SPICY VEGETABLE TAGINE
45ml olive oil
1 red onion, halved and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 baby parsnips or 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced
4 baby marrows, sliced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quince, cored and cubed
300g butternut, peeled and cubed
45ml tomato paste
3-5ml cayenne pepper
5ml ground ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
750ml vegetable stock
2ml saffron, infused in 30ml of hot water
125ml soft, pitted dates
400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
125ml dried apricots
125ml chopped fresh coriander
125ml flaked almonds, toasted
couscous, to serve
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pot.
Fry the onion, carrots, parsnips, baby marrows, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quince and butternut for a few minutes.
Add the tomato paste and spices and fry for a few more minutes until fragrant.
Add the stock, saffron-infused water, dates and honey.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and apricots and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add the coriander and flaked almonds and serve with couscous.
CHICKEN CHORIZO CASSEROLE
8 chicken thighs
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
15ml chopped fresh rosemary leaves
225g chorizo sausage, sliced
125ml dry white wine
300ml chicken stock
370ml jar of puttanesca sauce
30ml black olives, pitted
60ml chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the flour and chicken in a large bowl. Season and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based ovenproof casserole dish over high heat. Cook chicken for 8-10 minutes until golden. Transfer to a plate.
Add onion, celery, garlic, rosemary and chorizo to the pot and fry until softened, 3-4 minutes.
Add wine and cook for a further minute.
Stir in the stock and the store-bought puttanesca sauce.
Return the chicken to the dish and bring to the boil. Cover and transfer dish to the oven.
Cook for 45 minutes.
Remove lid, add olives and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.