8-28: Flemish Beef Casserole

Another day, another Simply Delicious casserole. Today’s version is 8-28: Flemish Beef Casserole, which doesn’t tell you much other than it’s going to involve beef and will be somewhat Flemish in nature. I didn’t grow up with a lot of casseroles (especially not Flemish beef ones), but they were (and still are, for the most part) popular because they are cheap, easy, and feed a lot of people.

Interesting that they claim it’s a family recipe, but it includes beer. Doesn’t bother me personally, but I know that doesn’t fly for some folks (mostly due to religious or other exceptions). I suppose most of the alcohol would cook off and not really have any effect, but even the mere inclusion of it can be a no-go for some.

TIPS claim that this recipe improves upon standing. I’ve made it as part of a weekly meal prep for lunch, so we’ll test that theory.

Ingredients. I’ll say that in rereading the recipe as part of writing this entry, I think I forgot to include the brown sugar. Honestly, it probably would have helped it, so don’t do that yourself. My beer is 805, which is one of my local favorites (pro-tip: 1.5 cups = 12 oz, which is typically one whole standard-sized bottle or can of beer).

Meat is my homemade “beaf” (recipe courtesy of the Gentle Chef) and my bouquet garni is made from some thyme and rosemary I grew myself, along with some store-bought parsley (the parsley is struggling in my garden) and a bay leaf. They don’t specify which type of vinegar to use so I chose apple cider vinegar, but in retrospect (especially since I evidently forgot the brown sugar), I probably should have just used a standard white vinegar–the ACV made it a little sour for my tastes.

I tied my bouquet with some standard kitchen twine, which is always good to have around.

My beaf was already in pieces, but I cut them smaller to more closely match the cut they show in the recipe card.

So I know that I’m supposed to do this in a skillet, but when you have a Dutch oven (and it’s a Dutch recipe, although I don’t know what makes it that–the beer?), you gotta go with that. Plus, this way we get to keep ALL the flavors in the pot (and there’s less to clean up).

This isn’t real meat, but it still needs some time on the stove to get some color and browning–that’s going to add to the flavor.

Pulled the meat out once it was ready, and held it to the side in a bowl. Without cleaning the pot, I added a bit more oil and tossed in the onions.

Added in the garlic and salt/pepper once they had sweated a bit. I know they say to sauté, but they also say NOT to let them get brown, which to me seems to be closer to sweating than sautéing.

If you do your sautéing in a separate pan, you’ll want to deglaze it with the broth and then add it all into your ovenproof pot. If you do it in the same pot, you can still do a type of deglazing by putting the broth in with the ingredients and then giving it some good stirs/scrapes to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom. No straining required with the second method though, unless you’re really opposed to some small bits of brown goodness.

Time to open the beer–I used my trusty bottle opener that we got from a trip to see the Pageant of the Masters about 10 years ago, back when we still lived in Southern California. If you want to know more about what it might be like to go to the Pageant of the Masters (or something like it), Arrested Development has you covered.

Tossing in my bouquet garni as the last step before it goes in the oven.

Wait! I need to push that down into the liquid a bit more before it goes in to ensure it really gets in there.

OK, now we’re ready to bake. Ignore how dirty the oven is–I know I do.

While the casserole does its thing in the oven, I’ll work on cooking some noodles with which to serve it. Egg noodles would probably work best, but these will do as well.

After removing it from the oven and removing the lid–look at all that steam!

First step (after the steam clears) is to remove the bouquet garni, which is nowhere near as green and vibrant as it was when it went in. That’s good though–that means it did its job.

Making my cornstarch “slurry” to thicken the liquid.

Mixed in the slurry, but I don’t know how much it actually helped things–the picture above looks a lot like it did prior to adding the slurry. It never really thickened as much as I thought it would.

As I mentioned previously, this is supposed to be for lunch meal preps, so first I divvied up the noodles into the containers.

Then I topped each one with some of the casserole. Let’s hope they’re absolutely scrumptious once we break back into them after they’ve sat for a few days.

Spoiler alert: they really weren’t–I thought this came out way too sour and boring for my tastes. The sugar that I forgot to add might have helped some (and perhaps using fake meat detracted from it more than I thought it would), but overall I wasn’t impressed. Honestly, I don’t even think we finished all the portions shown above–not all of them are going to be winners.

Grade: C-