The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - The Telegraph Magazine
BRAISED BEEF IN STOUT
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 3 hours
Given enough notice, your butcher should be able to provide you with ox cheeks. If not, you can use featherblade, shin, or even oxtail. The art of braising and slow cooking – which is not simply putting a chunk of meat with some seasoning and herbs in the oven at a low temperature – seems to be in danger of disappearing, which is a shame because it’s a great skill to have and makes great use of cheaper cuts of meat.
– 1½ tbsp plain flour
– 4 x 220-250g pieces of ox cheek, shin, featherblade or oxtail
– vegetable oil, for
– 30g butter
– 1 small onion, finely
– 1 garlic clove, crushed
– 1 tsp tomato purée
– a few thyme sprigs
– 500ml Guinness or
– 1½ litres good-quality
– 1 bay leaf
– cornflour, if needed,
Lightly coat the meat with half a tablespoon of the flour and season all over. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the meat on a high heat until nicely browned all over. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add the rest of the flour, the tomato purée and the thyme sprigs, and stir over a low heat for a minute or so.
Meanwhile, boil the stout in a separate saucepan until it has reduced by two thirds, then slowly add this to the onion pan along with the stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming.
Bring to a simmer and add the pieces of beef and the bay leaf. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 2-2½ hours, until the meat is tender (it is difficult to put an exact time on braised meats, sometimes an extra half an hour may be required, depending on the meat itself – the best way to check is by tasting it). You could use a pressure cooker instead, which would halve the cooking time.
Once the meat is cooked, the sauce should have thickened to a gravy-like consistency; if not, dilute a little cornflour in some water, stir into the sauce and simmer for a few more minutes.
Serve with mash or roasted root vegetables.