Beef and Ale Stew, a delicious, warming stew with a lovely tang to it, is a classic British dish. However, I wasn’t sure if I liked it when I first came to England over twenty years ago. You see, ale refers to dark beers, stouts and ‘bitters’ many of which are, well, bitter or at the very least quite full bodied. For a North American palate, they are often very much an acquired taste. So back in the day, I decided to play with the traditional recipe to make it more friendly to my Canadian palate. I replaced the stronger flavours of ale with lager and added more vegetables to the dish to make my Beef and Beer Stew. Little did I know I was creating a family favourite. It is really popular with our guests and is by far one of the most requested dishes in our house. When my family want comfort food, my Beef and Beer Stew is what they ask for.
My Beef and Beer Stew is a frugal dish because it uses cheaper cuts of beef – chuck, braising or stewing steak – which become mouth-wateringly tender with long, slow cooking. I use chuck steak most often because I like it best but any of these cuts work just fine. I use ordinary lager beer for this recipe – Coors Light most often, but any lager will do. I made my Beef and Beer Stew with Labbatt’s Blue when my son was living in Canada and it was absolutely delicious.
A great make ahead meal, Beef and Beer Stew tastes even better re-heated. Allowing it to sit in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours lets the flavours develop beautifully. Reheat it slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a little bit of hot water or beef stock to the stew to loosen the sauce a bit if necessary.
Having said that, my Beef and Beer Stew smells so good when it’s cooking, I rarely get away with being able to cook this dish without letting people actually eat it! In fact, I often make a double batch so we can have some the first night and more a day or two later. Beef and Beer Stew is great for casual weekend entertaining as you can make it Friday afternoon, cool, cover and store in the fridge. Then simply reheat it thoroughly to serve for Saturday supper or Sunday dinner.
Beef and Beer Stew is great served in a bowl with crusty bread on the side or serve it with rice or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable for a heartier meal.
- 2 tablespoons mild olive oil or butter
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 pound of cubed chuck, braising or stewing steak
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks (about one inch thick)
- 2 to 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped in chunks (optional)
- (If you don’t like parsnips, or have any on hand, just add an extra carrot or two)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) of your favourite beer, preferably at room temperature
- 1 cup beef stock (you may not need it all)
- 2 to 3 generous teaspoons Dijon mustard, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley or a couple of teaspoons of dried, plus some for garnish
- a generous pinch of salt and a few twists of freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325℉ (160℃).
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil or butter over medium heat in a large lidded casserole that will go from the stove top to the oven (or use a frying pan for the stove top part and then transfer the mixture to a casserole before putting it in the oven).
- Gently fry the onion in the oil or melted butter, stirring often, until it begins to soften and take on a little bit of colour. Remove the onion from the pan and keep warm.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil or butter to the large casserole or frying pan.
- Coat the beef cubes in flour (I use a Ziplock bag to do this, shaking the beef cubes in the flour until they are coated.)
- Brown the beef cube, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes or until they are beginning to take on a bit of colour on all sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches. If so, keep the browned batches of meat warm with the onions until all the beef cubes have been browned.
- Return the onions and all the browned beef cubes to the frying pan or casserole.
- Add the beer, mixing it into the beef and onions thoroughly, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan to mix into the stew.
- Add ¾ cup of the beef stock and the mustard, mixing in thoroughly.
- Carefully bring the mixture almost to the boil, stirring constantly so it does not stick.
- If you are using a frying pan, transfer the mixture very carefully to an oven safe casserole now.
- Tumble the carrots and parsnips into the casserole. Stir to coat with the liquid.
- Tuck in the bay leaf and stir in the salt and pepper. (If your stock is very salty, go easier on the added salt.)
- Cover the casserole and put it in the oven for an hour and a half, stirring every half hour.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the bay leaf.
- Check the thickness of the gravy. If it has not thickened up, mix a tablespoon of cornflour with about a two tablespoons of water and stir into the casserole. If it is too thick, add a bit of the remaining stock.
- Then return the casserole to the oven for another twenty to thirty minutes.
- Check the stew for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Stir in the parsley.
- Garnish with a bit more parsley if you like.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like to try my Beef Bourguignon The Easy Way.
Shared with Full Plate Thursday