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italian beef casserole – a Leggo’s challenge

August 24, 2009

Studying and working in the advertising / marketing industries has turned me into a somewhat cynical consumer. Will that face cream really reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in only eight hours? I don’t know, but I’d highly doubt it. So when I opened my inbox to see the words “Make an Italian Beef Casserole to feed two people in under 15 minutes with Leggo’s”, I almost (almost!) laughed. But I didn’t. And, because I’m try to be as fair as I am cynical, I decided to give it a shot. (And, as a sidenote, I’ll be giving some of it away too, so you can have a shot at it yourself…)

Like most things in the world onebitemore, “giving it a shot” turned into a bit of a production, and soon, I was issuing notices to all and sunder (ie: the family) to get ready for a blind tasting a-la-Masterchef. A battle of flavours, if you will (and, as a sidenote, a test to see if one could really cook said casserole in 15 minutes and without purchasing a casserole dish).

If you can’t be bothered reading it all, here’s some bits you might want to see:

The Results
The Giveaway (free Leggo’s for all!)
The Recipe: traditional Italian Beef Casserole
The Recipe: Leggo’s Italian Beef Casserole

Italian Beef Casserole (traditional)
vs
Italian Beef Casserole (Leggo’s style)

 

who will take it out?

who will take it out?

The Stats:

Italian Beef Casserole - Leggo’s style

Cost per meal (serves two): $7.09
Time taken from go-to-whoah: 15 minutes
Ingredients required: 4
Difficulty rating: 2*

Italian Beef Casserole – Traditional

Cost per meal (serves two + some leftovers): $8.83
Time taken from go-to-whoah: 2.5 hours
Ingredients required: 9
Difficulty rating: 3*

* where 1 = boiling water and 10 = something by Heston Blumenthal

a comparison of the ingredient lists

a comparison of the ingredient lists

How I conducted the comparison:

1. I adjusted the slow-cooked recipe to make the dishes more similar (substituted zucchini for peas & carrots, beef stock for red wine) and scaled the recipe back to a serve “for two”.

2. I made each recipe independently of the other, following the recipe from start to finish, cleaning up, and then starting the next recipe.

3. I timed each recipe by recording start and finish time. All times include preparation (eg: cutting vegetables, pulling things out of cupboards).

4. Both dishes were served on identical plates with identical side dishes (mashed potatoes & sauteed brussel sprouts). They were labelled “Plate 1” and “Plate 2” before the testers got to them.

The Results:

The panel were asked to make a judgement on which dish they preferred. I asked them to consider the flavour, texture and general-likeability of the dish.

On the count of three, they were asked to close their eyes and hold up the number of fingers that corresponded with their preferred dish (Dish 1 was the Leggo’s dish, and Dish 2, the traditional recipe.)

And these were the results…

Dish 2 takes it!

Dish 2 takes it!

Yes, traditional won (with three votes to one), but on a points basis, the results weren’t all that disparate.

Three out of four voters argued that they would rather spend 15 minutes on the Leggo’s version than 2.5hours on the traditional version, regardless of flavour (with the fourth voter declaring that the traditional version wasn’t as much work as the other three thought). And, happily, all four tasters agreed that they would happily dig into either version, and that neither version tasted “instant”.

And the overall winner? Well that’s something I’m going to let you decide for yourself. Both of the recipes I used are just a little scroll down the page and oh! if you want a free packet of the Leggo’s, all you need to do is click here for your eating pleasure.

Italian Beef Casserole (traditional)

traditional italian casserole

traditional italian casserole

you will need:

500g chuck steak
2tbsp plain flour
2 cloves garlic
1/2 a brown onion
500ml beef stock
250ml (1C) passata or tomato puree
2tbsp tomato paste
1 large zucchini
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Step One:

Cube your chuck steak and toss it around in a bowl with the flour and some seasoning. You want to get a light coating on each piece. Heat a casserole dish (or a pot that can also go into the oven) and add a splash of olive oil. Brown the meat in batches (don’t overcrowd the dish!) and put it to one side.

brown the meat, then sautee the onions

brown the meat, then sautee the onions

Step Two:

Using the same casserole dish, add your crushed cloves of garlic and half-rings of onion. Cook it, stirring, over a low heat until the onion is soft. Try to scrape off the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the casserole dish while this is going on.

Step Three:

Deglaze your dish by tossing the beef stock, tomato puree & tomato paste in and stirring around to really get those lovely caramelly brown bits from the bottom of your dish to incorporate into the mixture. Pop your beef back in, shut the lid, and stick the lot into a 160C oven for an hour and a half.

all of the ingredients bubbling away

Step Four:

Chop your zucchini into fat circles (about 1cm width). Pull the casserole dish out of the oven (carefully! It will be hot!) pop the zucchini in, stir quickly, and pop it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Step Five:

Wait for the bell to ring, then pull your casserole out of the oven for eating! Serve on top of a pile of creamy mash and with a side of sauteed brussel sprouts. Melt-in-your-mouth meaty love!

Italian Beef Casserole (Leggo’s Style)

leggos italian casserole

leggos italian casserole

you will need:

300g rump steak
1 large zucchini
Leggo’s Italian Casserole sachet
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

brown the meat

brown the meat

Step One:

Chop your rump steak up into cubes. While you’re at it, slice your zucchini into thin slices.

toss the zucchini in and sautee

toss the zucchini in and sautee

Step Two:

Toss a splash of olive oil in a pot and, when it is hot, brown your meat in batches. Lower the heat, return all the meat to the pan and toss your zucchini in. Stir to combine.

let it all simmer away!

let it all simmer away!

Step Three:

Cut the packet of simmer sauce open, pour it all into the pot and stir to mix. Turn the heat up so that it is simmering, put the lid on and let it simmer away for 10 minutes.

Step Four:

It’ll be done by now, so dump it on top of your mash (which, strangely, takes longer to prepare than the casserole itself) and serve.

Disclaimer: www.onebitemore.com received compensation for the publication of this article.


  • #1
    August 24th, 2009

    That’s fun! I don’t really like lego so I will pass it and put everything in a slow cooker. 😀

  • #2
    August 24th, 2009

    I love love love cooking experiments! It makes a game (my second favourite thing) out of food (my first favourite thing).

  • #3
    August 24th, 2009

    What a fabulous idea. I love it!

  • #4
    Aileen Lim Koh
    August 24th, 2009

    Love to prove that I can cook too

  • #5
    Aileen Lim Koh
    August 24th, 2009

    Love to prove that I can be a chef

  • #6
    August 25th, 2009

    haha looks like fun; and you can’t say no to free casserole

  • #7
    August 25th, 2009

    Interesting test! And isn’t it funny how everyone picked Number 2 but when told the time taken said that they’d probably go for Number 1!

  • #8
    August 25th, 2009

    Haha interesting! Tradition won!
    But I guess I wouldn’t mind going for something quick and fast. …. or use my pressure coockerrrrr psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  • #9
    September 2nd, 2009

    @Anh: Gotta love a slow cooker. I have to admit, I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of the pasta sauces, but this one was ok.

    @Yas: Isn’t it fun? The taste testers were equally enamoured (more so because they didn’t have to cook or clean up!)

    @Julia: Thanks! 🙂

    @Aileen: Hope you managed to get some!

    @Lex: No. That you can’t. I’d like to see someone who would.

    @Lorraine: I thought that was pretty funny too – convenience wins every time.

    @Yas: *pssssssssssssssst!* And hope it doesn’t explode into a casserole volcano eruption! 🙂

  • #10
    September 15th, 2009

    Great idea to do a taste comparison
    The time factor alone wins me over too …the Leggos packet is great when you are in hurry or even out camping.
    The taste is quite pleasant too.

Shez