beef ‘n beer!
May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
I don’t know what the weather was like wherever you are, but here it was what they call in North Mayo ‘a woeful day’. We had winds of over 140 kilometers an hour, rain, hailstones – all I felt like doing today was curling up on the sofa to watch coverage of Barak Obama kissing babies and drinking Guinness in Moneygall and eating comfort food.
And when it comes to comfort food there’s nothing better on a cold horrible day than a thick rich beefy stew that you can fling into the oven for hours and forget about till it’s ready. This is a tweak I came up with on the more traditional beef in Guinness, which I find a wee bit bitter. You can tweak it back and include the Guinness if you prefer, I won’t be offended.
So the first thing I did was get the beef ready. For stews like this I always use the cheapest chunks of beef that the butcher will sell me. They’re going to be cooking for hours so using a quality cut of steak would be a complete waste. Cheap beef that you slow cook like this will lose its toughness and end up beautifully fall-apartily tender. Promise!
Right, so into well seasoned flour I tossed the chunks of meat to coat them. I’ve seen some people advocate doing this in a plastic bag and shaking it about, but I think that’s a shocking waste of a plastic bag, so I just use a shallow dish.
When the meat was all white and floury, I fried it off in a little oil in a HOT pan. It needs to be hot so it seals quickly, locking all the flavour and juiciness and inside. And see how there’s only a few bits in the pan? They’re much happier with lots of room so it’s better to do it in batches of a few bits at a time.
So as they were browned I was putting them into a casserole. I have a big-ass cast iron lidded jobby but anything ovenproof with a lid will do. On top of the meat I threw in a chopped red onion, some carrots, and 2 bay leaves…
…then the flavours! So in with a bottle of nice beer, and about half the amount again of water. The brand of beer you use is up to you, but I usually go with the guideline that I don’t cook with anything I wouldn’t drink. So this was a nice bottle. Don’t panic and think there’s too much liquid in there – it’ll reduce down and thanks to the flour, it’ll thicken too. Promise!
Also in there is about 2 tablespoons of tomato pureé, one finely chopped garlic clove, and some dried herbs. The closest things I had to hand were rosemary, marjoram and thyme so that’s what ended up going in. Quick stir, and into a medium-heat oven for as long as you like.
Yes, I realise that ‘for as long as you like’ isn’t a hard and fast measurement of time… but every time I make this I just whack it in for around 2 hours. Sometimes the meat will still need a bot longer, sometimes it’s already nice and melty by that time, it just depends.
Around 20 minutes before we wanted to eat, I took it out of the oven and added some chopped parsnips, then back in while I cooked some little new potatoes. See how much the liquid has reduced down though? It’s all thick and unctious and…. like comfort food should be – comforting. Around 20 minutes later, I tested the meat to make sure it just fell apart in my mouth when I bit into it, which it was – heaven! So onto plates….
…and into our bellies!