This is a great recipe. My friend Richard adapted it from Delia Smiths. It is very easy to make, and quite tasty too. In terms of the beef to use, it should be braising steak, preferably marbled with quite a lot of fat in it. Don't go for anything like 'Finest' or 'Taste the Difference' ranges, and most certainly not 'Lean' meat. The fat is needed to really make the stew nice and moist. If at all possible, go to a local butcher and ask for some nice braising steak.
Beer wise go for something rich and malty: Hobgoblin, Old Peculiar and Guinness Foreign Extra are all good bets. Delia recommended serving this with some cheesy croutons on top, but in my opinion that just makes it too rich. So I would serve with some plain boiled or mashed potatoes, and some nice green veg like spring greens or cabbage.
This should serve 4 to 6 people with the veg and potatoes.
- 2 lb (900 g) braising steak cut into 2 inch (5 cm) squares
- 15 fl oz (425 ml) designer beer
- 1 spoon brown sugar
Set the oven to gas Mark 1(140°C).
Take the flameproof casserole, 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 colour on all sides. Don't put too much in the pan or they will create steam and never become brown, so if necessary do in batches.
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. Add the spoon of sugar, to caramelise the onions. Toss them around until they become dark caramel brown colour at the edges – 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. This will not look like an exciting stew just yet, so don't worry there is plenty of cooking time to sort it out.
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 to 3 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.