Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Turkish Beef Casserole

“The Oxford Companion to Food” by Alan Davidson says:

“Gyuvech is the Bulgarian name for a kind of earthenware casserole or the dish cooked in it. The name comes from the Turkish word güveç, which has the same meaning. The casserole is fairly shallow with a large surface area allowing for maximum evaporation. It comes round or oval and lidless…These vessels found all over the Balkans are used for cooking almost anything of a savoury nature, including fish as well as meat, poultry, and game dishes.”

If you are confuzzled (confused&puzzled) with the variety of Turkish güveç recipes on the Internet, please try to keep in mind that the dish is still called güveç no matter what kind of meat and/or vegetables are used as long as it is slow-cooked in an earthenware casserole. The choice of ingredients for güveç all depends on the variety of meat, vegetables and spices where you live. You can always add others or remove some from the recipes. The idea is that everything is in rough, bite-sized chunks to be cooked very slowly (preferably in a stone oven) with spices. Just because of this freedom with ingredients, the dish is also called 'türlü' which literally means 'varied' in Turkish: layering various vegetables with meat and slow-cooking in a clay pot. 


400-500 grams beef
1 large onion
1 large eggplant
1 large carrot
250 grams grean beans
2 small zucchinis
1 large potato
1 large bell pepper
2 large tomatoes
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil


Step 1: Prepare the vegetables

 Chop the onion into bite-sized chunks.
 Peel and slice off round coins from the carrot by cutting it crosswise.
Green Beans
String the beans if necessary and slit in half (French cut). 
Trim the zucchinis and cut into large pieces.  
Peel and cube the potatoes.
Remove stem from the eggplant, peel off 1 cm strips of skin lengthwise at intervals giving a striped effect.  Cut the eggplant into chunky pieces. Spread the pieces on a tray and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Leave for 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
Bell Pepper
Cut top of the bell pepper and remove the seeds and ribs. Slice it in chunks. 
Peel the tomatoes and slice them into big chunks.
Banana Pepper
Cut top of the pepper and remove the seeds and ribs. Slice it into two.

Step 2: Layer the ingredients

1. Remove bits of fat from the meat. Cut the meat into bite-size chunks.

2. Place the casserole over medium heat. Put the bits of fat into the casserole and let them melt for a few minutes. Add in the beef chunks and saute them until lightly browned. 

3. Add in and saute the onion.

4. Add in the carrot coins.

5. Add in the green beans.

6. Add in the zucchini chunks.

7. Add in the potato cubes.

Add in the eggplant chunks.

Add in the bell pepper slices.

Cover with tomato slices and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. 

(Optional) Top with banana peppers. Drizzle olive oil. 

Cover the casserole and cook over low heat up to 2 hours until vegetables and the meat are done.

P.S. Garlic would be a great addition to the dish. Add it minced with the onions if you feel like it. While layering the vegetables, feel free to sprinkle with any other spices you prefer.