Looking for a make-ahead Halloween dinner? Make this Ghoul-ash, Spooky Spuds & Poisoned Peas to feed the family and make your Halloween ghoulishly spooky!
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Halloween Dinner Idea!
When I’m planning any event at home, I always like to have as many things done in advance as possible, I don’t like the thought of being stuck in the kitchen whilst everyone else is having a good time!
So for the main dish for my Halloween Dinner Party I decided to make use of one of my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment: my slow cooker, and make my tried and trusted beef stew. It’s simple to make, I can leave it to do its thing overnight and not worry at all about it.
My husband came up with the name ‘Ghoul-ash’ for it as we couldn’t think of anything else. It wasn’t a goulash at all, just a regular beef stew! After the party we watched Scared Shrekless, the Halloween edition of Shrek, and I said “We should have called it Swamp Stew.” Isn’t hindsight great?!
I don’t have any photos of the preparation, as by the time I prepared the stew it was around 11pm. I was so tired I just wanted to get it in the crock pot!
Like the majority of my recipes it is so easy to make, and is a winner winner, Halloween dinner!
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To make my Ghoul-ash beef stew you will need a joint of beef that is suited to slow cooking. I tend to use silverside, but you could use brisket or chuck.
You will also need a selection of vegetables – I tend to use carrots, onions, parsnips and sometimes butternut squash. I would usually also add potatoes, but I made Spooky Spuds (mashed potato) to go on the side, so left them out of the stew itself.
Other ingredients are olive oil, beef gravy granules, English mustard, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and some hot water. I sometimes add dried rosemary too.
I can’t give exact quantities, because I typically throw everything into the slow cooker without measuring. But as a guide, for four people I would about a kilo of beef, which is around 2lbs; two large carrots, a large parsnip, a large onion, and a small butternut squash. If adding potatoes, I allow a potato per person.
I roughly chop the vegetables into large chunks. I keep them quite big so that they don’t dissolve to nothing with the long cooking! The onion is peeled, halved, and cut into thick half moon shapes.
All the vegetables go into the slow cooker then I season the beef with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides in a large frying pan/skillet with a glug of olive oil.
The seared meat is then added on top of the veggies, along with any cooking juices.
I then add a large mugful of hot water from the kettle (250ml ish, it’s not exact!) to a measuring jug and stir in 4 tablespoons of beef gravy granules, a couple teaspoons of English mustard, some tomato paste (or sometimes ketchup if I’ve run out!) and a twist of pepper and salt.
This stock is poured over the meat and vegetables, and I set my slow cooker to high for one hour, and then turn down to low to cook for at least 8 hours total. If you can, cook it for 12 hours – the longer the cooking, the tastier it becomes! I often have it cooking for up to 20 hours since I tend to put it on to cook around 11pm, and we have dinner the next day around 6/7pm!
As the stew cooks, more liquid appears in the pot from the cooking process and I tend to turn the meat around in the gravy to baste it. I also add more gravy granules to thicken it up and give it a nice beefy flavour. But do check for liquid levels, especially if you are cooking for hours upon hours like I do!
By the time it’s cooked, the beef is fall apart tender, and the vegetables, which I leave chunky, haven’t dissolved away into nothing.
To go along with the Ghoul-ash I made Spooky Spuds (mashed potatoes) and Poisoned Peas (mushy peas).
Everyone knows how to make mash – but just in case… peel and chop up some potatoes and boil until tender. Mash up with some butter and milk, salt and pepper. If you’re feeling fancy, you could use cream or half and half.
To make the Poisoned Peas I boiled some frozen peas in a saucepan of salted water with some chopped fresh mint until they were tender. I then mashed them up with some butter, salt, pepper and some dried mint to intensify the flavour.
I mashed the potatoes about an hour before my guests arrived, and did a Jamie Oliver trick of putting them in a bowl covered with foil on top of a pan of simmering water. I did the same with the peas.
To serve I portioned out the meat as best I could – it really does just fall apart – and a big spoonful of gravy and vegetables on top.
For the Spooky Spuds, I was originally going to pipe the mashed potato into ghost shapes, but I couldn’t locate my piping bag, so just fashioned them into little piles with a spoon. I blobbed on some ketchup for eyes and mouth. Finally the peas went on the side.
It went down well with my guests, and is a family favourite for not only a Halloween Dinner, but on a cold fall or winter evening!
For the Ghoul-ash
- 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1kg/2.2lbs beef joint suitable for slow cooking such as silverside, chuck or brisket, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 250mls/1 cup boiling water
- 4 Tbsp beef gravy granules
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp English mustard
- salt and pepper
For the Spooky Spuds
- 1kg/2.2lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 50g/1½oz butter
- 100ml/3½fl oz milk
- salt and pepper
For the Poisoned Peas
- 500g/1lb frozen peas
- 50g/1½oz butter
- 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tsp dried mint
- salt and pepper
- For the Ghoul-ash, add the carrots, parsnip, butternut squash, and onions to slow cooker.
- Heat the oil in a large pan on the stove top and brown the beef on all sides.
- Add the beef and all the cooking juices to slow cooker.
- In a measuring jug add the water, gravy granules, tomato paste, English mustard, and salt and pepper. Stir and pour into slow cooker.
- Turn onto high for one hour, then switch to low for 7 hours.
- Cooking liquid will accumulate in the crock pot, so when ready to serve, you may wish to thicken with more gravy granules.
- To make the Spooky Spuds, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.
- Drain and leave to dry for 10 minutes.
- Mash with a potato masher, and add butter and milk (you could use cream or half and half if you want to). Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
- For the Poisoned Peas, boil the peas with the chopped mint until tender.
- Drain and return to pan with butter and dried mint.
- Roughly mash - you don't want a puree though! Season with salt and pepper if desired.
- To serve, place a portion of Ghoul-ash on a plate. You can pipe the mashed potato into ghost shapes, or just spoon and fashion a ghost! Add blobs of ketchup for eyes and mouth. Finish with a portion of Poisoned Peas.
I often cook the beef stew for up to 20 hours! Starting at 11pm, and eating at around 7pm the following day. I do keep an eye on the liquid levels to make sure the slow cooker doesn't dry out, but it never does. I find the longer I cook, the better it tastes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1519 Total Fat: 83g Saturated Fat: 37g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 37g Cholesterol: 336mg Sodium: 894mg Carbohydrates: 92g Fiber: 16g Sugar: 14g Protein: 101g