This is our family favourite beef casserole and that’s because of the fruity addition of plum jam. It doesn’t make the casserole taste of plums, it just gives it a slightly sweet edge and a deeper, richer flavour.
I use baby potatoes and sometimes just parsnips and others a mix of parsnips and carrots. Using all carrots and no parsnips would work too. I also add in fresh rosemary which pairs perfectly with the plum jam and the beef. To serve, we love to eat it with some crusty bread to sop up all the beefy saucy goodness. Oh and the aroma that fills the house while this casserole cooks is SO good!
This one-pot casserole can be cooked in the oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot - take your pick! It’s also a prep ahead winner, you can even prep pretty much everything and freeze it all together in a food bag.
Wondering how to adapt this recipe for your family? See here >
The Stars of my Beef and Plum Casserole
You’ll want to go for lean diced beef or stewing beef for this meal. If you are in the US dicing beef chuck will also work.
The Plum Jam
Any make will do, look for plum or damson jam / conserve. When you measure out the jam, try to avoid including large chunks of plum.
The Root Veg
You can use any potatoes you like for this Beef and Plum Casserole. I use baby potatoes, but large potatoes quartered will be just fine to use instead.
As I mentioned before, you can use a mix of carrots and parsnips or just one or the other. Because casseroles cook for so long, it’s better to cut your carrots and parsnips into large pieces. I recommend you slice them around 1 inch thick and at a diagonal angle. If your parsnips are very wide at the top end, resulting in huge slices, those can then be cut in half lengthways.
I prefer to use fresh rosemary, but you can of course use dried instead. You’ll want to use one teaspoon of dried.
Eating More Sustainably
If you are trying to eat less meat, instead of using a 600g pack of diced beef, you can go for a 400g pack.
Making My Beef and Plum Casserole
Watch me make my Beef and Plum Casserole step-by-step, before or as you cook.
Preparing my Beef and Plum Casserole Ahead
This is such a good meal for preparing ahead of time. You can even do it days or months before!
You can prep the onions ahead of time and chill in a food bag or container. Same goes for all the root vegetables. You can do this a few days before by adding them to a large bowl of cold water. This will stop the chopped potatoes and parsnips from going brown. You can also chop the rosemary and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preparing Ahead for Freezing
If you want to prep this Beef and Plum Casserole to freeze, you can prep all ingredients except for the jam, the water and stock cubes and add them to a large resealable food bag ready for freezing. If you are planning to cook this in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker, you’ll be able to cook it straight from frozen, whoo hoo! I’ve included in the recipe how to do this. For slow cooker and oven cooking, you will need to thaw the ingredients out first.
Because this is going to be quite a large mass of frozen food that needs to thaw, you should defrost this in the fridge for more than 24 hours before cooking, ideally around 30 hours before. You’ll just need to make sure you cook it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.
Cooking my Beef and Plum Casserole
If you are home for a few hours before dinner you can saute the beef and onions on the stove and then let it slow cook in the oven. For days when you are going to be out all day, this Beef and Plum casserole is perfect for the slow cooker. When you have the least amount of time to cook, the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) is what you’ll need.
Kids Cook Too
Younger children can help you make this Beef and Plum Casserole by helping to measure out the jam.
Storing My Beef and Plum Casserole
You can store leftovers in an air-tight container or resealable food bag in the fridge for up to 3 days (cook day + 2). You can also freeze them, just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge and reheat until steaming hot all the way through.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Beef and Plum Casserole is egg, nut and diary-free. You can make it gluten-free by using cornflour / cornstarch instead of flour. You’ll find notes on how to do this in my recipe notes.
Adapting My Beef and Plum Casserole For Your Family
Eating together is beneficial for families of all ages and stages, for a multitude of reasons; nutritional, behavioural, psychological and for healthy family functioning. This section will show you how to tweak this Beef and Plum Casserole recipe for sharing with a weaning baby, toddler or a fussy eater, to help make it easier for you to eat together as a family.
Keeping Picky Eaters Happy
The sweetness from the plum jam in this beef casserole should help your fussy eater to enjoy it. Ideally cook it in the oven or slow cooker so you have the most fall apart beef. Often, fussy eaters will get put off meat that is tough. Also, look out for and remove any bits of fat or gristle from their beef. It may help to break apart their beef with the back of a fork, so theirs has a shredded effect as oppose to chunks, which could be off putting to a fussy eater with a history of not loving red meat.
If your fussy eater isn’t a fan of sauces, lift out their serving with a slotted spoon. If your fussy eater seems to prefer their food separated as opposed to mixed in together, you can quickly arrange piles of the beef, carrots, parsnips and potatoes on their plate. Having said that, I believe it’s better to routinely offer different foods mixed together in the long run.
See more from me on fussy eaters here >
Making My Beef and Plum Casserole Suitable for Baby Weaning
Omit the salt from the beef and instead add it onto your plate, or once their serving is dished up, add it into the pot and stir. I also recommend using no / low-salt stock. You can also reduce the amount of jam you add in too if you are worried about the sugar.
How to Serve to Babies & Toddlers
If you are eating with a baby-led weaner, you’ll need to ensure the root vegetables are cut correctly for them to palm. They will need their carrots and parsnips cut into finger size sticks and slice larger baby potatoes into quarters lengthways before cooking. You can cut all the root vegetables in this way, or just to a few pieces and then once cooked, dig those out to serve to little one.
Once cooked, shred their beef chunks with a knife and fork. You can then mix this in with the vegetables. You might want to remove the skins from their potato, otherwise they will probably spit them out.
9 months +
Cut the root vegetables for cooking as per the recipe. You can discard the potato skin. Then cut their cooked vegetables into bitesize pieces. Then flake their beef with forks.
Add some casserole to your food chopper. Using short sharp pulses, to finely chop, checking and adding a little sauce, warm low-salt beef stock or warm boiled water to loosen as you go.
Add their casserole to your food chopper pot. Gradually pulse, just a few times then check the consistency. It should lumpy with small pieces. If it needs loosening, add a little sauce or warm low-salt beef stock.
12 month + Transitioning Period
Shred the beef pieces using forks and mash down the root veg with the back of a fork. Discard the potato skins. You can mix it all together and add a little more sauce if you like.
Flake the beef up using the back of a fork. Either mash down the root veg with the back of a fork, or chop into bitesize pieces.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook. For more info on how I keep my family meals suitable for baby weaning, read here >
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PLUM BEEF CASSEROLE (Oven, Slow Cooker & Instant Pot)
- Large casserole pot slow cooker / Instant Pot
- Chopping board
- Garlic press
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 600 g diced lean beef or beef chuck (US), diced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons flour see notes for using cornflour
- 1.2 ltrs hot water
- 2 beef stock cubes / bouillon
- 90 g plum or damson jam or conserve large fruit chunks removed
- 700 g baby potatoes washed and halved (tiny ones left whole)
- 600 g parsnips or carrots or mix peeled and sliced diagonally 1 inch
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
- Buttered crusty rolls/baguette
- Preheat the oven to 190ºc/170ºc fan/375ºf/gas 5.
- Heat the oil in your oven-proof casserole pot over a high heat. Add the beef and onions, followed by salt & pepper and cook for 6 minutes to brown, stirring every now and then.
- Turn the heat to low and add in the garlic and flour. Fry, stirring, for a further minute.
- Next, slowly add in the hot water and stir well. Then crumble in your stock cubes and add in the jam. Stir until both are dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and add in all the root veg, the bay leaf and the rosemary. Give it a stir, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 ½ hours. Leave to cool down for around 10 minutes before serving and remember to remove the bay leaf.
- Add in the hot water, crumble in the stock cubes and add the jam. Stir until dissolved. Add in the beef, then all the other ingredients. Level out. Cover with the lid and select low to cook for 8-10 hours, medium to cook for 6-8 hours or high to cook in 4-6 hours. Then to thicken the sauce, mix the flour with a little water to make a loose paste and then add into the pot. Stir in well. Then leave, uncovered on high for 30 mins.
- FROM CHILLED: Do step 2 in your Instant Pot, using the Saute, high setting. Follow steps 3-4. Then add in all the root veg, bay leaf and rosemary. Select Cancel, put the lid on, close and lock and turn steam release to Sealing. Select Meat/Stew setting (35 mins). Then quick release, or natural venting for around 10 mins if you prefer. Remove bay leaf before serving. To thicken the sauce, once cooked, mix your flour with a little water to make a loose paste and add into the pot. Stir well to mix. Cook on Saute for 5 minutes.
- FROM FROZEN: Add in the hot water, crumble in the stock cubes and add the jam. Stir until both are dissolved. Add in everything from the food bag. Cook on high for 45 minutes, then natural release 10 minutes. To thicken the sauce once cooked, mix your flour with a little water to make a loose paste and add into the pot. Stir well to mix. Cook on Saute for 5 minutes.