Slow and tender beef casserole

The beef is slowly simmered until meltingly tender, as the barley soaks up some of the juices and thickens the rich gravy to make a hearty casserole. Serve with green vegetables such as French-cut green beans.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Serves: 4


  • 450g (1lb) beef chuck or lean braising steak, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 230ml full-bodied red wine
  • 12 pearl onions
  • boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 260ml low-fat, reduced-sodium beef broth
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced

Recipe method

1. Place the beef in a large bowl with the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Pour the wine over the top, then cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

3. Place the onions in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 2 minutes, then drain. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins, then set aside.

4. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry on a paper towel, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the beef and brown it on all sides. Work in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate.

5. Add the onions to the casserole and cook gently until lightly coloured all over, 3 to 4 minutes.

6. Add the barley and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then return the beef and any juices to the casserole. Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer.

7. Strain the marinade into the casserole, and add the bay leaves and sprig of thyme. Season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, transfer to the oven, and braise for 45 minutes.

8. Add the carrots and celery. Stir to mix. Cover again, and braise until the beef, barley, and vegetables are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove the bay leaves and thyme before serving.

Try something different…

Add juniper berries when marinating the beef for a distinctive flavour of gin.


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