Beef in ale casserole is a classic British dish that has been enjoyed for generations. It is a hearty, warming dish that is perfect for cold autumn or winter nights, especially when served with creamy mashed potato.
Beef and ale go brilliantly well together. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more comforting dish on a cold, winter night!
Beef in ale: a dish with real tradition
The origins of beef in ale casserole can be traced back to medieval times when beef was cooked slowly in a pot with ale, vegetables, and herbs. The dish was a staple of the British working-class diet and was often eaten by labourers, who needed a filling meal to sustain them through long, hard days of work. Over time, the recipe evolved, and different regions of the UK developed their own variations. However, the basic ingredients remained the same – beef, ale, and vegetables.
The choice of ale can make or break the dish
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… so choose wisely!
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!
Do you have a favourite ale you use when making beef in ale casserole? Let me know in the comments and I might give it a try!
The other flavours in this dish are simple, just a bit of fragrant fresh thyme and, of course, fresh bay leaves.
Casserole, or slow cooker. It’s up to you!
Cook this dish slowly on a low heat. This gives the flavours time to mature, and the beef time to be melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Cook this beef in ale casserole at gas mark 2 (150 C / 300 F) for around 4 hours. Add the mushrooms about 3 hours in, so they don’t shrivel up. This recipe is also perfect for a slow cooker. You should brown the beef and sauté the vegetables before placing everything into the slow cooker. And of course, you’ll need less stock and ale if slow cooking: try using 250 ml stock and 300 ml ale.
Serve this delicious casserole with creamy mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, or cabbage. It’s also really nice to dunk fresh, crusty bread in. If you want an even richer treat, why not serve with fondant potatoes instead of mash!
Beef in ale casserole is a classic British dish that has stood the test of time. It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that is perfect for cold autumn or winter nights. The combination of beef, ale, and vegetables creates a rich, complex flavour that is sure to warm you up from the inside out. Give this beef in ale casserole a try, next time you’re looking for a hearty, warming meal. You won’t be disappointed.
Beef in ale casserole
- 600 g beef diced
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only
- 60 g plain flour
- 25 g butter unsalted
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400 ml beef stock
- 500 ml ale
- 150 g button mushrooms
- salt to season
- black pepper to season
- heat your oven to 150C (gas 2), unless your’re using a slow cooker of course!
- sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and season well with salt and pepper
- dredge the beef in the flour, covering it well, and then set aside while you prep your carrots, onion, celery and garlic
- in a saucepan or frying pan, melt the butter and add half the olive oil. When the butter is foaming, brown off the beef in batches. Set the browned beef aside
- once all the beef is browned off, add the remaining olive oil and then add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme and cook on a medium heat for around 3 – 4 minutes, until the onion is turning translucent
- add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
- transfer the vegetables and the beef into a large casserole dish
- using a small amount of beer, de-glaze the pan and then pour the de-glazed mix into the casserole dish
- pour the beef stock and the rest of the ale into the casserole dish, mix the contents together and then place the dish, uncovered, in the centre of your oven and cook for around 3 hours
- after this time, add the button mushrooms, give the casserole a stir and then return to the oven and cook for around a further 1 hour, until the liquid has reduced to your liking and the beef is tender
- serve with steamed vegetales and mashed or roasted potatoes