Beef braised in port stout

This is a very simple recipe, but a little care over the details will raise it to princely heights. Ask your butcher for a piece of blade or feather steak (they’re the same thing) in one piece and cut it up carefully, leaving the fat (which melts away) but removing the stringy gristle. If you have an obliging butcher, such as the inestimable Pipers Farm in Exeter’s Magdalen Road, they will do it for you. 

Serve this with a warming glass of the ale in which you braised the beef.

Yields4 Servings
 1kg feather (or blade) steak (cut into 2.5cm cube chunks)
 3 tbsp oil
 5 onions (halved then sliced about 5mm)
 1 tbsp tomato purée
 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
 2 tbsp plain flour
 200ml stock
 250ml Hanlons Port Stout, or other strong, dark ale
 2 sprigs of thyme
 2 bay leaves
 1 tbsp vinegar (wine, balsamic or cider)
 some thyme leaves (to serve)
1

Make sure you have a 25cm round tart tin.

2

Dry the meat on kitchen paper (this will help it brown) then season well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large ovenproof casserole or pan with a lid – Le Creuset is ideal – and, when smoking hot, drop in a layer of beef chunks (don’t crowd them). Cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until the meat has seared underneath and you can flip the chunks over with tongs. Continue sizzling for 3-4 minutes, until well browned all over, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the meat, adding more oil if necessary.

3

Add the remaining oil to the now-empty pan and stir in the onions, tomato purée and 1/2 tsp salt. Keep over a medium heat for five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any burnt bits, which will dissolve as the onions release their juices.

4

Continue cooking, stirring now and then, for around 12-15 minutes, until the onions are floppy and pleasantly golden, then stir in the garlic and flour.

5

Stir for another two minutes, till the flour is lightly browned, then add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon again, incorporating the tasty browned bits.

6

Stir in the beef, ale, bay leaves, thyme, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, bring to the boil, and then put in an oven at 150C/300F/gas mark 2, partially covered with a lid so some of the juices evaporate, until the beef is completely tender, about 2 hours. At the halfway point, stir the beef and add a splash more beer or boiling water if necessary.

7

Fish out the bay leaves and the skeletons of the thyme sprigs, if you can find them, and serve piping hot.Like all casserole dishes, this will taste even better a day or two later, reheated.Food styling and photography by Angela Nilson

CategoryCuisine

Ingredients

 1kg feather (or blade) steak (cut into 2.5cm cube chunks)
 3 tbsp oil
 5 onions (halved then sliced about 5mm)
 1 tbsp tomato purée
 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
 2 tbsp plain flour
 200ml stock
 250ml Hanlons Port Stout, or other strong, dark ale
 2 sprigs of thyme
 2 bay leaves
 1 tbsp vinegar (wine, balsamic or cider)
 some thyme leaves (to serve)

Directions

1

Make sure you have a 25cm round tart tin.

2

Dry the meat on kitchen paper (this will help it brown) then season well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large ovenproof casserole or pan with a lid – Le Creuset is ideal – and, when smoking hot, drop in a layer of beef chunks (don’t crowd them). Cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until the meat has seared underneath and you can flip the chunks over with tongs. Continue sizzling for 3-4 minutes, until well browned all over, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the meat, adding more oil if necessary.

3

Add the remaining oil to the now-empty pan and stir in the onions, tomato purée and 1/2 tsp salt. Keep over a medium heat for five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any burnt bits, which will dissolve as the onions release their juices.

4

Continue cooking, stirring now and then, for around 12-15 minutes, until the onions are floppy and pleasantly golden, then stir in the garlic and flour.

5

Stir for another two minutes, till the flour is lightly browned, then add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon again, incorporating the tasty browned bits.

6

Stir in the beef, ale, bay leaves, thyme, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, bring to the boil, and then put in an oven at 150C/300F/gas mark 2, partially covered with a lid so some of the juices evaporate, until the beef is completely tender, about 2 hours. At the halfway point, stir the beef and add a splash more beer or boiling water if necessary.

7

Fish out the bay leaves and the skeletons of the thyme sprigs, if you can find them, and serve piping hot.Like all casserole dishes, this will taste even better a day or two later, reheated.Food styling and photography by Angela Nilson

Beef braised in port stout