“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Meat „
At the moment I am in the midst of moving to a new house which means that I am trying to run down on the stuff I have stored in my two freezers so I don't have to take it with me and can do a huge shop when I get sorted out. One of the things I had in my freezer was this Sainsbury's Basics Diced Beef that I bought a couple of weeks ago and the other night with a bit of time on my hands due to being fed up of packing I decided to create myself a nice meal in my slow cooker!
I am a huge fan of slow cooking. Not only do I find it great for shoving ingredients into and usually getting a nice meal out of it but also I do find that I can use cheaper cuts of meat because a slow cooker really does tenderise things!
I found this in the chilled aisle of Sainsbury's and it came in a see through plastic carton with peel off lid to the top of it and on that we are clearly told what it is and who is it by and then on the underside of it other information listed includes the weight being stated (which is 440g), we are told that it is freezable and contact details for the manufacturer are given. No ingredients are given but on the Sainsbury's website we are simply told that it is beef and no nutritional information is listed anywhere on the packaging though cooking instructions are.
Using The Meat:
What you get is plenty of large but still cubed pieces of bright red beef. There is some appearance of white blobs of fat on some of the pieces of meat though the meat doesn't look 'stringy' and to be fair for the price of it I was surprised there wasn't more fat about so I left the bit I could see on the meat to add a bit of flavour to the dish I was creating and before using it I did allow it to properly defrost at room temperature.
I used this by gently browning it with onions first then bunged it all in my slow cooker with peas, carrots and plenty of stock and left it for a few hours and before serving I added a little mixed herbs and black pepper.
Taste wise I found this to be rather good. I did cook it on a low setting in my slow cooker for hours and only stirred it occasionally and the meat didn't taste tough or greasy or anything adverse to me at all. I cant say taste wise it was the most thrilling of beef though but in texture, smell and the flavour it did carry it was decent enough quality and tasty enough for what I paid for it.
There is no way though I would use this for anything than in a casserole or stew type dish. I do remember once a friend hob cooking this in a frying pan and bunging over a curry sauce and it was rock hard meat so this really does need to be cooked for a long time to get it tender and all in all I think this is a great buy for a family meal that doesn't break the bank and of course you can always enhance the flavour of this meat yourself!
Only available from Sainsbury's stores
When I offered to do a stew the other night I didn't realise I was going to have to go out and buy EVERYTHING except the Oxos, it was the day before shopping day and there wasn't even a carrot in the fridge. The problem was that I hadn't got a lot of cash that day and counting up the pennies in my purse I realised I was going to have to get it all for £5.26 exactly, god you should have seen me in Sainsburys comparing prices.... it was like Ready, Steady Cook! lol
The biggest expense was going to be the meat so I looked at that first but it was all majorly expensive, then I looked down and saw some packs of Basics Diced Casserole Steak that was only £2.50 for 450g. It looked like there was more fat on it than the other stewing steak we buy but for the difference in the price I didn't mind cutting that off, I always brown and drain the fat off casserole meat anyway so even if the meat itself contained more fat it wouldn't have been a problem because I'd just brown it for a bit longer.
The steak isn't diced very well, some of it is in massive pieces that I cut up myself to make 3 smaller pieces and some looked like the meat had been ripped instead of chopped into cubes. Like I thought there was more visible fat on the steak so I used a sharp knife to cut it all off, once it was off and in a pile there didn't look that much there so if you're not bothered about fat on your meat then this would be ok for you to use as it comes because it's not thick white gristly fat.
It browned nice and didn't leave as much fat in the pan as I thought it would, probably a bit more than in the more expensive trimmed casserole meat but nothing major. I did my stew in the oven and added leeks, carrots, parsnip, onions, sweetcorn, potatoes and dumplings..... it came out proper nice and I did it all for the cash in my purse with a few pence left over! lol
After about 4 hours cooking the meat was lovely and tender, it's a bit more chewy than the diced steak my mum usually gets from the butchers but that's cut from actual steaks and costs at least twice as much so you can't moan about it. It's not that chewy that it takes 30 chews just to get it down like when you cook meat too quick and I can only notice it because of how tender and melt in your mouth our usual stewing meat is. It's got a wicked beefy taste and this 450g pack fed all 5 of us with a couple of portions left over for the next day, it deffo helped to cut it into smaller chunks because it meant the meat went a lot further than if I'd left it in the bigger pieces that it come in.
I reckon I'll deffo buy this casserole steak again because even though it might not look as good in the packet once you've cut the fat off and tidied the pieces up a bit you'll see it's just as good as any other stewing meat. I reckon it would go even better in a slow cooker because those are the best for cooking cheaper meat and even better you can just fill the slow cooker and forget about it.
Recommended..... don't be a snob, try it!!!
I am a big fan of the Sainsbury's Basics range but have until recently avoided buying their basics meat because I've always been a bit dubious about its origin and processing. However when Jamie Oliver used the Basics diced casserole steak for his stew in the Sainsbury's ad I thought I would give it a try.
At 2.50 for 440g it is cheaper than it's standard Sainsbury's lean diced equivalent which is 3.49 for 440g. It's described as great heritage cuts of beef which is reassuring, however, where the lean pack gives the nutrition content, the information is omitted from the Basics range so you can't compare the fat content, for example.
I use a slow cooker for my stews and it is recommended that in order to get the best from the Basics casserole steak it must be slow cooked.
Whilst preparing it for the slow cooker, I noticed that it looked slightly more fatty than the lean, diced steak and also less care in terms of cutting it is taken so you may get huge pieces along with really small pieces, but other than that it doesn't look any different.
You can tell the difference once the stew has been cooked however as the gravy is more oily. However, the meat was tender and tasted good.
So the main pluses are that the meat is as tender as the lean version if slow cooked and tastes as good. Also, the Basics casserole steak is £1.00 cheaper per pack than the lean diced version. However, I always need 2 packs, and there is always a buy 2 for £6.00 offer on the lean version so instead of paying £2 more for 2 packs you only pay £1 more.
Also, the fact that the nutrition content is omitted from the Basics version is worrying. It could be that it's left out to aid the cheaper packaging process but it isn't indicated on Sainsbury's online either.
Taking all this into consideration, I think the Basics version is a great cheaper alternative for flavour also. However, I think I will be going back to the lean diced casserole steak, mainly because I need to know the nutrition information and the fact that I'm paying only £1 more to know that the meat I'm eating is lean then it's worth it.