Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Grandma Betty's Spanish Beef

Today is a hard day for me. It marks 8 years since my Grandma passed away. She was a very important part of my life and the person who inspired my love for cooking. I have many fond memories of being in the kitchen with her or around her dinner table with my family. One dish she always made for special occasions was called Spanish Beef. I have no idea where the name came from because there is nothing remotely Spanish about it. It was definitely a childhood favourite. I would request it every birthday until I stopped eating red meat.

I really wanted to share the joy this dish brought me with my family. Even though I am unable to eat it because of some kidney issues, I have I decided today was the perfect day to recreate this dish but with healthier and allergy friendly ingredients. The original recipe used a tin of tomato soup as the sauce and had a small packet of Smith's chips sprinkled on top! Obviously it needed some tweaking.

I started out by sending my Mum a text message to double check what exactly Grandma put in her Spanish Beef. It turned out I had forgotten about mustard powder (Thanks Mum!). Then I went on a hunt through my cupboards to see what I could find to replicate the dish and then got started on chucking it all together. Unfortunately this dish is tomato heavy, so not fructose or salicylate friendly, which means that because of some of Miss E's intolerances it will be a sometimes dish in our house.

When I was ready to get cooking, I started by chopping my carrot and onion with the help of my lovely kitchen assistant, Miss M. My Grandma added celery in her dish but we didn't have any so I just skipped that. I then fried the carrot, onion and garlic off in a little olive oil. Once they were just starting to brown, I added in 500g of organic beef mince and fried it off until browned. We choose to use organic vegetables and meat but if this is not in your budget or not something important to you, non-organic will work just as well.


Once the mince was browned I added tomato paste, mustard powder, parsley and basil. (I use an organic tomato paste, with no added salt or nasties.) I let them cook for a few moments before I added a tin of organic diced tomatoes, some water, salt and pepper. I then let it simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. 

While that was going, I moved onto slicing the potatoes. (How awesome is the bag my potatoes come in? It makes me excited every fortnight!) It would have been much smarter to slice them before I started cooking the other ingredients so I wasn't having to go between slicing and stirring. It would also have been really wise to use a finger guard when using a mandoline. You should definitely do that if using a mandoline to get your potato nice and thin. I wish I could say I followed my own advice but I sliced my thumb open on the very sharp blade. Seriously, use the finger guard! I had to ditch that lot of potato and start again since my poor thumb bled all over the first lot. 

Halfway through slicing the second potato, my mince mix was done so I moved that into an oven dish that was once my Grandams and finished off slicing the potatoes. I arranged the thinly sliced potato evenly over the dish once it was sliced and then brushed with melted beef dripping. Don't be scared off by this please! It's a very good dairy free alternative for those creamy, delicious potatoes on top of a casserole. You can also use butter (if dairy is a safe food) or oil if dripping is really not your thing. If you want to give dripping a try, you can find it near the butter in most supermarkets or even make your own. 

By this point it was almost ready to go in the oven. I just sprinkled with some fine sea salt and cracked black pepper, and popped it in the oven. While it was cooking away, I made myself a cup of tea in my Grandma's tea cup and pulled out her old Scrabble set. My Grandma and I would often play Scrabble and drink tea together while we had goodies baking in the oven. 

When I thought it was ready, I had a look and I was so happy with the result! Creamy potato with crispy edges. It smelt divine. Unfortunately because of my health issues, I couldn't give it a try but the evidence below shows how popular it was with Tim and the girls! I think next time I will make a double batch and send some as leftovers in Miss E's lunch box the following day. 

So today was a day tinged with sadness but I like to think that Grandma Betty was looking down and smiling while she watched me recreate her dish, that she saw the look of joy on my girls faces when they tasted this treat. I hope I did her dish justice while making it suitable to my families dietary restrictions. 


1 tablespoon of oil (we used olive oil)
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500g beef mince
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 400g tin of organic diced tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 - 2 potatoes, washed, pealed and finely sliced
2 tablespoons beef dripping melted (can substitute with butter or oil)
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 200C
2. In a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, fry off carrots, onion and garlic in oil until lightly browned.
3. Add beef mince and cook until browned
4. Stir in tomato paste, mustard powder, parsley and basil. Let cook for a few moments and then add tinned tomatoes, water, salt and pepper.
5. Turn heat down and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.
6. Transfer into an oven safe dish. Set aside.
7. Cover mince mixture evenly with potatoes and brush with melded beef dripping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
8. Bake in oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft and browned. 
9. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Add celery, mushrooms, peas or zucchini.
  • Add 1/2 cup of safe cheese just before placing mixture into oven safe dish.
  • Top with sweet potato instead of white potato or even try a combination. 

So what do you think? If you give it a go make sure you let me know.

Happy Cooking!
Jasmine x


  1. oh I am going to try this ....reckon Grandma Betty would be super proud of you!

    1. I hope so! Let me know how you go. I wasn't able to eat it but Tim has asked me to make it again next week so much have been good x