MINESTRONE BEEF CASSEROLE
1/4 cup olive oil
1.8kg beef chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 5cm pieces
3 bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1cm pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tblsps chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup tomato paste
400g jar basil-flavoured tomato pasta sauce
50g cold butter, chopped
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup milk
Heat an oiled, flameproof casserole dish (14-cup capacity) over a high heat. Add beef in three batches. Cook, turning occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until browned all over. Remove.
Heat same oiled dish over a medium to high heat. Add bacon, onion, carrots, garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add paste. Stir for 1 minute. Return beef with pasta sauce and 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid.
Cook in a slow oven (150C) for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make dumplings. Using your fingertips, rub butter into flour in a large bowl to form fine crumbs. Stir in cheese and parsley. Add milk. Mix well. Bring dough together with your hands. Divide into 12 equal portions. Shape into balls.
Remove casserole from oven. Remove lid. Arrange dumplings over top. Increase oven to hot (200C).
Cook, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes, or until dumplings are golden brown. Serve.
TIP: Casserole can be made to the end of Step 3, up to three days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat until simmering before adding dumplings.