Christmas is the perfect time to dish up something special for family and friends and, full of deep, rich flavours, this Beef, Chestnut and Red Wine Casserole is the perfect dish for you to serve to them. It smells so gorgeous while it’s cooking that people will be popping their heads round the kitchen door to see what’s going on!
I only cook with chestnuts at Christmas but I’m not sure why. I love their creamy sweetness, and they definitely add another dimension to this casserole. I used Merchant Gourmet Whole Ready Cooked Chestnuts.
Although I am a fan of ‘chuck it all in’ cooking, browning the beef really does make a difference here so don’t rush and miss this stage out. I do it in a large non-stick frying pan, in 3 or 4 batches and aim to get some good colour on each piece of beef.
Once the onions and garlic are sautéed and the beef is browned you just pile everything into a casserole dish, pop the whole lot into the oven and leave it to cook giving you more time to spend having fun. After a couple of hours it’s time to add the carrots, then the chestnuts go in 30 minutes later.
I’ve purposefully kept this dish gluten free as so many people avoid gluten now. Therefore, to thicken it, I use cornflour. You can either remove the casserole from the hob and add the corn flour over a low flame (if your casserole dish is hob proof) or you can stir in the corn flour slurry then return the casserole to the oven to thicken. If you use this method you will need to stir the casserole once or twice to ensure it thickens evenly.
Although this is an easy dish to make on the day, if you want to get ahead you can make the casserole in advance (don’t thicken it yet) and freeze it. Just give it 24-48 hours in the fridge to defrost before you re-heat it, either over a gentle heat on the hob, or in the oven. Then thicken before serving. Likewise, this dish is really easy to adjust if you are cooking for a crowd. Just scale up as needed.
Two other hearty recipes that would be fantastic served to guests over Christmas are my Sweet Potato Curry (perfect for vegetarians) and my Spiced Lamb Meatballs. If you’re looking for a great starter then why not try my Hot Smoked Salmon and Prawn Terrine? And for dessert? For the kids I’d do my Christmas Cookie Popcorn, and the adults? They would get a real treat – my sweet, silky Eggnog. Perfect!
Beef, Chestnut and Red Wine Casserole
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 600 g diced stewing steak
- 400 ml hot beef stock
- 200 ml red wine
- 2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small pinch of dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 medium carrots (peeled and cut into 2½ cm (1 inch) chunks)
- 180 g cooked whole chestnuts
- 2 tablespoons of cornflour
- In a large, non-stick casserole dish or frying pan, fry the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Remove to a large bowl.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
- Now brown the beef in batches over a high heat. Take care not to overcrowd the pan and add a little more oil as necessary. When each batch is browned and slightly caramelised remove it to the bowl containing the onions before you start the next lot.
- Place the onions, garlic and beef into your casserole dish. Add the stock, red wine, redcurrant jelly, bay leaves, thyme and salt.
- Place in the oven for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours add the carrots to the casserole. Return to the oven for 30 minutes then add the chestnuts. Return to the oven again and cook for a final 30 minutes until the beef is deliciously tender and the carrots are cooked through.
- Place the casserole onto the hob over a low heat*. Mix the corn flour with an equal amount of water. Pour in the cornflour and stir until the casserole is thickened.