Nothing out of the mainstream here. Just a comforting casserole for one of the cold, stormy nights we’ve been having recently.
- 350g braising steak
- Around 20 pickling onions or small shallots
- A small pack of button mushrooms, sliced or left whole according to size
- Two sticks of celery, finely chopped
- Oil – whatever you prefer, groundnut, vegetable or olive
- Salt & Pepper
- 500ml of dark ale – my wife bought Wychwood Hobgoblin, but anything with a bit of body will do just fine
- 3 bay leaves
- A handful of rosemary leaves, stripped from their stalks
Heat the oven to 140C/Gas 2.
Cut up the beef into cubes – be guided by the thickness of the steaks. Don’t be too obsessive about this, as long as the chunks aren’t too small. The long cook will treat big cubes and smaller ones around the same.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add the oil. Meanwhile, season the flour and coat the beef. Fry in a couple of batches until nicely browned on all sides – don’t be timid with your browning!
Remove the meat, add a little more oil if necessary, and gently fry the onions or shallots, mushrooms and celery for 10 minutes or more, until everything is getting nice and soft.
Put everything into a heavy casserole – I’ve had a Le Creuset one for 20 or more years that always gets pressed into service – and pour on the beer.
Bring to the boil, put the lid on and put in the oven for 2.5 hours, or more.
About half-way through, spoon off any fat that has found its way to the top and add the bay leaves and rosemary. Stir in the herbs and heat the casserole to boiling before replacing in the oven.
Serve with a steamed green vegetable and mash. We like mustard mash with this.
Peel and boil potatoes – you know how many you’ll eat – for about 20 minutes, until soft.
Drain the potatoes and mash over a low heat until fluffy. Take off the heat and add butter (or low-fat Flora if you’re watching your fat intake). Stir in a dessert-spoonful or more of grain mustard. Stir it in gently, but thoroughly, with a wooden spoon and taste. Not mustardy enough? Then add some more. Mustard was made for beef.
You might like dumplings
This would be great with herb dumplings, but waistlines preclude beef suet, while suspicions of the health implications of vegetable suet kill off that option in my kitchen.