With winter well on its way for us more southern-living folk [Editor – thanks to GABS, this has been pushed back so far it’s winter up here too] I thought it an appropriate time to post a recipe for some hearty winter fare. There’s nothing better than a steamy, rich and flavour-filled casserole to keep you warm on those increasingly cooler nights. And the best way to get that richness of flavour? Add some booze of course!
Growing up, I think my mum left out that most essential of ingredients, and I’d bemoan the fact I’d been served up yet another bland, gloopy casserole for dinner. At most, I think she might’ve added a dash of dry sherry. But never fear, I’ve corrected her prohibitionist ways and she’ll never think of leaving the beer out again.
I usually prepare this dish in advance and bung it in either the fridge or freezer as a quick and fuss-free reheat option for dinner.
What you need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 800g blade or chuck steak, diced into 3cm cubes
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 rashers short cut bacon
- 200g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 330mL bottle ale
- 1 ¾ cups beef stock
- Crusty bread rolls to serve
What to do:
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Heat half the oil in a flame- and oven-proof dish over the stovetop. Add the meat and brown over medium heat for 5 minutes or until all edges of the meat are sealed. Remove meat and set aside in a bowl.
- Heat the remaining oil. Add onion, garlic and bacon and cook for 2 minutes or until onions have softened. Return the beef to the dish and stir in the flour, coating all ingredients. Add the remaining vegetables and thyme and stir for a further 5 minutes.
- Pour over the ale and beef stock and season with a little pepper. Bring casserole to the boil then transfer to the oven and cook covered for 2 hours.
- Enjoy now or heat up later with some crusty bread rolls.
The possibilities are endless for making variations to this recipe. Add your favourite vegetables instead of the ones listed above. You could replace the potato with kumara (sweet potato), the onion with leek, carrots with celery, etc., etc., etc.
I prefer to use amber to dark ales for this recipe as they intensify the richness and depth of flavour but feel free to experiment with other beers.