As with all cooking – the secret to this dish is using good ingredients. I use rough cut braising steak from Tony the butcher in Stroud – there’s a little bit of fat but absolutley no gristle or sinew. The flavour is fanastic and just metls in your mouth after a couple of hour’s slow cooking. Knocks the socks off anything you can buy pre made in the shop!!
This would be enough for say 3-4 people so reduce all the ingredients down if you are making less.
- chop an onion
- cube a couple of carrots
- chop a stick of celery
- chop a handful of mushrooms
- open a bottle of beer – I use Butcombe but any real ale is good, or stout.
Have them all this ready to go before you start dealing with the beef
Put the beef in a bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of plain flour, a generous slug of salt and pepper. Mix it all up with your fingers so the beef is coated in the flour – but not too heavily.
Heat oil in a pan – when it is hot, chuck in your beef. Stir it every 30 seconds or so until it is really nice and brown – even a little bit burnt on the sides is fine, it all adds good flavour.
When the beef is brown all over, take it out of the pan and put it to one side.
Add more oil and gently fry/saute all your veg until the onion goes translucent and the other bits soften slightly.
Chuck the beef back in and then Add half a bottle of beer and the same amount of water. I often add a glass of red wine too. The beer will boil and bubble up so make sure you are using a good sized pan.
If you have any ‘bouquet garni’ bundles then throw one in. If not, then a bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary would be fine.
Bring to the boil and keep giving it a good stir.
I’d avoid adding a stock cube, it doens’t need it, but if it seems to be lacking a little something then put a slug of worcestershire sauce or oyster sauce in there.
Once it has come to the boil, put the lid on and cook really really gently for 2 hrs. Or you can put it in a casserole dish and cook in the over at about 160 for a couple of hours. Stir every so often and add a splash of water if it goes too dry or too thick. Taste it every 30 mins or so to check if it needs more salt etc etc.
You can eat this as a casserole or stew, or you can put in a pie dish and cover with puff pastry for steak and ale pies.
UPDATE: I added too much beer to this last night and it resulted in an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste in the sauce. To remedy this – add equal parts salt and sugar until it tastes better, or ladel out half the gravy and replace with fresh water. Alternatively – cook for longer and the bitterness will mellow out.