This tasty combination of beef and onion in a rich ale gravy is perfect for a warming supper. It is certainly worth making double the quantity and freezing some for another day.

To serve three to four you will need:

  • 2 lb, 900 g, of beef suitable for braising, (chuck or blade steak is very good and
    top-side or silver-side have extra flavour).
  • 1 oz, 25 g, of butter or margarine.
  • 1 tbsp, 15 ml of cooking oil.
  • 2 large onions thinly sliced.
  • 1 level tbsp, 15 ml, of brown sugar.
  • 1 garlic clove crushed.
  • 1 level tbsp, 15 ml, of plain flour.
  • half a pt, 10 fl.oz, of brown ale or beer.
  • 5 fl.oz, a quarter of a pt, of beef stock made by dissolving half a stock or bouillon cube in
    boiling water.
  • a little salt and pepper.
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Begin by setting the oven to Gas Mark 2, 300 F, 150 C, 140 Fan.

  1. Cut the beef into four equal sized pieces then season on both sides
    with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat the butter or margarine and oil in a large frying pan or skillet and brown the beef in
    batches, two pieces at a time should fit into the base of your large pan. Cook for about five minutes over a medium
    heat on each side, turning with a large spatula or fish slice half way through.
  3. Now your meat will be sealed and lightly brown and ready
    to be transferred into the large casserole dish, using your
    spatula or fish slice again as its large flat slotted shape will make it
    easier to transfer the meat, leaving all the juices
    in the pan, ready to fry the onions.
  4. Add the sliced onions to the frying pan and cook them over a moderate heat for about ten minutes
    until softened, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add in the sugar and crushed garlic and fry for a further two to three minutes until sugar has dissolved, giving that lovely
    caramelised flavour and golden hue.
  6. Add the flour to the pan and stir continuously for one minute.
  7. Gradually stir in the ale a little at a time, bringing the gravy
    to the boil, blending in any onion, garlic or meat juices that have stuck to
    the base and sides of the pan during frying.
  8. Add the beef stock to the pan, blend in well and pour the contents over the beef in the casserole,
  9. add the thyme and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Cover with a lid or foil and cook in the centre of the pre-heated oven for two hours, then,
    remove the casserole dish from the oven, uncover it, put it back into the oven and continue cooking for a further 30 to 45
    minutes until the gravy has reduced and thickened by which time the meat should be
    very tender when tested with a fork.

Serve with boiled mashed potatoes and steamed carrots and cabbage. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Why not serve a steamed jam or fruit pudding as a dessert as this can be cooked on top of your stove while the casserole is cooking in
the oven.