Thursday, June 10, 2010

beef and green bean "casserole"

recipe adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros

Tessa Kiros cookbooks are full of simple, time-tested recipes that have been passed down for generations by her friends and family.  Her recipes are accompanied by vibrant photographs, cooking advice and anecdotes.  She calls this recipe a "casserole" but I think it is better described as a light stew.   The original recipe calls for lamb which I strongly dislike so I use beef instead. If you prefer lamb, that would work well too. When I think of casseroles I think of a heavy dish bound with some kind of cheese or egg.  This has neither and is perfect for a cold and rainy evening like tonight.

This is a one pot meal which is always nice for an easy clean up.  It isn't so much a set it and forget it dish but is still very easy.  It doesn't require a whole lot of attention other than you being there to stir in some green beans and take the lid off.  There are a couple different prep ahead options.  First, you could do the stovetop part the night before and bake it the next day.  Or, if you have time, prep the entire dish the night before.  It tastes even better reheated on the stovetop.

3 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds of lean stew meat
1 red onion, chopped
1 1/2 T butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14 oz.c can of diced tomatoes
1 small piece of a cinnamon stick
3 cups of broth ( I use vegetable but whatever you have will work)
3/4 pound green beans
1 1/2 cups small cubes of feta cheese (My kids don't like feta so I don't use it on their bowls. I think the dish tastes great without it so I consider this an optional ingredient)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Heat the oil in a dutch oven (or any large pot that can go in the oven-lid and all!)
3. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, add the onion and garlic and saute until tender.
4.  Add the butter, tomatoes, cinnamon and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil.
5.  Put lid on and bake for 45 minutes.
6.  After 45 minutes, add green beans and another cup of broth if it seems dry. Mix well.  Bake with the lid on for another hour.
7.  After 1 hour, remove lid and bake for 15 minutes.
8.  Serve individual bowls with a sprinkling of feta.

Prep ahead:  Do steps 2-4 the night before saving the baking for the next evening. OR
                     Make the entire dish the night before, it tastes even better reheated.

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