Hello, and welcome to Will It Casserole? Retro Week’s answer to Will It Sous Vide? Basically, instead of making things with my immersion circulator, I took a meal and made it into a casserole.
Photos by Claire Lower.
And what a casserole it is, my friends. I must say though, it was quite hard to pick just one thing to casserole, as I received many great suggestions. In the end, “steak dinner casserole” seemed to be the most popular idea, so I went with that (and was very happy about it).
To me, a good steak dinner has several components:
- A rib eye steak, cooked medium rare
- A baked potato with all the fixings
- A wedge salad with blue cheese and bacon
- Some sort of vegetable that has been “creamed”, ideally spinach
- Crispy onion strings or rings
- A lot of horseradish
- A big, bold red wine
- A martini or three
Getting all of these things into one cohesive dish — or better yet, one bite — was the goal here, so I sketched out a casserole with four layers:
- Layer 1: Medium rare rib eye steak in a red wine-horseradish-onion gravy
- Layer 2: Spinach
- Layer 3: Cubed, baked potatoes tossed with sour cream, cheddar cheese and blue cheese
- Layer 4: Bacon and crispy onions
If that second layer looks a little sparse, do not worry: The creamy components in the first and third layers provided plenty of richness to give the spinach a “creamed” quality.
To make this glorious pile of steakhouse wonderment, you will need:
- 1 steak weighing at least 450g (I went with rib eye, but a cheaper cut would be absolutely OK here)
- 2 russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of duck fat (or other type of cooking oil for searing the steak and baking the potatoes)
- 60mL red wine
- 6 strips of bacon
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups of beef broth
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 cup sour cream
- 140g crumbled blue cheese
- 140g shredded cheddar cheese
- Crispy fried onions
First of all, you’re going to need to be in the casserole making mood. I suggest putting on “Mother’s Little Helper” and getting a little “bored housewife drunk” with a few martinis. Once the mood is made, you’re going to grab that steak and give it a good sear in some duck fat for a few minutes on each side. While your meat’s sizzling, prick your potatoes all around with a fork, give ’em a rub down with some graisse de canard, and pop them in a 205C oven for about an hour.
Once your steak has a nice crust on it, set it aside to rest and deglaze the pan with the vino. Scrape up all those tasty bits, and decant everything into a little bowl. Set that little bowl aside.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and fry your bacon until it is nice and crispy. Set the strips of pork aside on a paper towel to drain, add a tablespoon of butter to the grease, and cook your sweet, sweet onion in that hedonistic mixture of butter and lard. Once those are every so slightly caramelised, add your minced garlic and let everything cook for another couple of minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions, give them a good stir, and cook the floured onion for another minute. Pour your beef broth into the pan and cook, stirring continuously, until it thickens up a bit. Add the reserved steak-pan-dripping-and-wine situation and continue to cook and stir until you have a nice, thick gravy. Remove from the heat and stir in the prepared horseradish. Cube your steak, add it to your casserole dish, and pour that magnificent gravy all over that beautiful meat. You now have your first layer.
If the potatoes aren’t done baking yet, make yourself another martini, drink it, and sprinkle the spinach on top of the first layer for a pop of colour and a bit of fibre.
Once the potatoes are done, split them in half and let them release some steam and, once they’re cool enough to handle, cube them into 2.5cm chunks and toss those chunks with sour cream and both cheeses. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and distribute what would be a pretty good potato salad on top of the spinach.
Top that business with your crumbled bacon and crispy onions, and get that baby in a 205C oven for about 15 minutes, or as long as it takes to get all melty and bubbly. (You may want to wait five minutes or so before adding the onions, as mine got just a touch burnt.)
So, now we must ask: Will an entire steak dinner casserole?
The answer: You bet your butt it will. This was one of the tastier piles of food I’ve shoveled into my face — and “shoveling” is the right word here — and two out of two of the men I fed it to cleaned their plates.
It was meaty, cheesy, salty and creamy — and yes, heavy in a very rib-sticking way — but the wine added depth, the horseradish helped cut through some of the richness, and the spinach made me feel a little better about my choices. I loved this casserole, is what I’m saying, and that’s great news, considering I’m going to be eating casserole for at least a week.
Welcome to Retro Week, where we’ll be firing up the flux capacitor and bringing you 1950s know-how on everything from casserole-making to fallout-shelter-building to the joys of letting kids relax and play with trash.