Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beef and Bacon Casserole with Cheese Dumplings

The one great thing about comfort food is that there is no season when you must eat it... comfort food is definitely a year round happening.  This dish is certainly in the comfort food category.

Beef and Bacon Casserole, a  thick tomato gravy laced with tender beef chunks, bacon pieces and vegetables is nice by itself but topped with a couple of fluffy cheese dumplings it was perfect.  The hint of thyme perfectly complimented the mix.

Best of all this recipe was easy to prepare which made it easy to fit into the mid week rush especially as I cheated by putting the casserole in the slow cooker (although the recipe cooks in the oven) and was ready not long after getting home from football training with only the dumplings to prepare.

Beef and Bacon Casserole with Cheese Dumplings
(Recipe sourced from WW Food You'll Love Cookbook)
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 11
cooking spray
125 grams Weight Watchers Bacon, chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600 grams lean blade steak, fat trimmed cut into 3cm pieces
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
400 gram can diced tomatoes
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
200 grams button mushrooms, halved
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon Weight Watchers Canola Spread
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup reduced fat milk

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Celsius fan forced. 

Lightly spray a large 1.5 litre (6 cup) flameproof casserole dish with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add bacon and onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl.

Lightly spray the same dish with cooking spray and heat over high heat.  Cook beef, in batches, turning, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Return beef and bacon mixture to the pan.  Add plain flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Gradually stir in the wine and bring to the boil.  Add stock, tomatoes, carrot, celery and thyme. Cover and bring to the boil.  Transfer dish to oven and bake for 1 hour.  Add mushrooms and bake for 30 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, place self raising flour and spread in a large bowl.  Using fingertips, rub spread into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in Parmesan.  Make a well in centre of flour mixture and stir in enough milk to create a soft, sticky dough.

Remove dish from oven.  Increase oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan forced.  Using floured hands, roll dough into 8 dumplings about the size of a walnut. Arrange dumplings, about 3 cm apart, on top of beef mixture and lightly spray with oil.  Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until dumplings are lightly browned and cooked through.

Note:  I mentioned that I cooked the casserole component in the slow cooker (I love my slow cooker).  Cooked on low for 8 hours after the second step.  Transfer to an oven proof dish when ready to cook dumplings in the oven.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

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