Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Friday Recipe - Beef in Designer Beer

That I'm even considering a blog post on my cooking skills makes me hoot with laughter.  You see, I'm one of those people who only likes to cook when I have a lot of time.  Hubby is one of those dash-of-this, dash-of-that cooks, and everything turns out fine in 20 minutes.  Not me.  I follow the recipe line by line, measure everything exactly.  I just never got the knack of that. 
Beef in Designer Beer

Photo from Delia Online
Beef in Designer Beer is basically beef stew topped with slices of French bread, topped with Gruyere cheese.  Add your favorite adult beverage and it doesn't get much better!   

This recipe came to me by way of a dear friend who put us up for a time when we visited them in Africa a few years back.  She prepared this meal for us on our first night there.  After traveling for more than 24 hours straight, it was a welcome bit of home cooking.  Now it's part of my winter kitchen repertoire.

This is the perfect meal for a snowy day.  Having the oven on warms up the house, and everything smells terrific!  While I can't take credit for this recipe, it is one I prepare often.  It also impresses your guests, making them believe that you've been cooking all day.  The recipe is originally from Delia Smith, the British equivalent of a Martha Stewart or some other Food Network celebrity.   I copied and pasted the recipe from her website with a few changes.  For Delia's additional comments, visit here

For the croutons:  --  She refers to them as croutons--they are actually slices of French bread.
1 tablespoon olive oil --  or more as needed.  Not too much or bread will be soggy.
1 garlic clove, crushed  --  As we like garlic, I always use a bit more.
6 x 1 inch thick slives of French bread, cut slightly diagonally
6 level teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
4 oz. grated Gruyére cheese  --  I usually use a bit more Gruyére.

For the stew:
2 lb. of braising or stewing steak cut into 2 inch squares
15 fl. Ounces of designer beer.  --  Newcastle Brown Ale works well, but in a pinch I have even used Heineken Light and it’s still delicious!
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz. onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaping teaspoon of plain flour
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the croutons: 
You can make the croutons well ahead of time and, to do this, pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Drizzle the olive oil on to the baking sheet, add the crushed garlic, then, using either your hands or a piece of kitchen paper, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet.

Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn them over so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes till crisp and crunchy.


To prepare the stew: 
When you're ready to cook the beef, lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C). Take the flameproof [LeCreuset or similar] casserole dish, place it over direct heat, then heat the oil until sizzling hot and fry the meat, 3 or 4 pieces at a time, until they turn a dark mahogany color on all sides. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan or they will create steam and never become brown. As you brown the meat remove it to a plate then, when all the meat is ready, add the onions to the pan, still keeping the heat high. Toss them around until they become darkly tinged at the edges – this will take about 5 minutes. After that add the crushed garlic, let that cook for about 30 seconds or so, then turn the heat down, return the meat to the casserole and sprinkle in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir until all the flour has been absorbed into the juices.

It will look rather stodgy and unpromising at this stage but not to worry – the long slow cooking will transform its appearance. Now gradually stir in the beer and, when it's all in, let the whole thing gently come up to simmering point, and while that's happening add salt, freshly milled black pepper and the thyme and bay leaves. Then, just as it begins to bubble, put the lid on, transfer it to the centre shelf of the oven and leave it there for 2½ hours. Don't be tempted to taste it now or halfway through the cooking as it does take 2½ hours for the beer to mellow and become a luscious sauce.

Just before you want to serve the beef, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Pre-heat the grill, spread the croutons with the mustard and sprinkle them with the grated Gruyère, then arrange them on top of the meat and pop the casserole under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling. Then serve immediately.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Sounds fantastic! And after reading your notes and changes, who says you don't cook the "dash of this" way?!