Beef and ale go brilliantly well together, and on a cold, dark winter night you’d be hard-pressed to beat a dish as hearty and delicious as a good old beef in ale casserole!
One of the great things about a beef in ale casserole, apart from being delicious anyway, is that the flavour of the finished dish really does depend upon the type of beer you use.
You can use a paler ale for a lighter finish, a strong dark ale, porter or even stout for a richer, more bitter dish, and of course almost any ale in between – it really does depend on your preference.
In this recipe I used Theakston’s Old Peculier, which is a cracking, full-bodied beer that’s bursting with flavour. Theakston say that it goes very well with rich stews, but it also works very well in them too!
The other flavours in this dish are simple, just a bit of fragrant fresh thyme and, of course, the ubiquitous bay leaves.
This recipe is best cooked slowly on a low heat, to give the flavours time to mature and the beef time to be melt-in-the-mouth tender.
I cooked it on gas mark 2 (150C) for around 4 hours. You could of course cook it in a slow cooker, but I would advise that the mushrooms are added about an hour before the end of the cooking time, otherwise they’ll just shrivel-up.
Because it’s January and we’re eating mostly low-carb meals, I served this only with vegetables – carrots, green beans, peas and cavolo nero, which as regular readers will know is my new favourite thing, but this beef in ale stew would be best served with vegetables and mashed or roast potatoes.
Do you have a favourite ale you use when you make beef in ale casserole? Let me know in the comments.