The Easiest, Tastiest, Beef & Ale Casserole Recipe
This recipe teaches you how to cook a really easy beef & ale casserole with ingredients you’re likely to have around the house. For example, you could just as easily use lamb in this recipe and I encourage you to play around. There’s also a really tasty braised leg of lamb recipe right here on the site!
After Indian food, my next major culinary love is with beef. You can call me predictable if you like. I’m well aware that both fit very comfortably into the bracket of man food. And while I certainly don’t want to imply they’re only foods for men, I do think if you sat a group of men in a room and asked them their favourite foods, beef and Indian food would both come up at least a couple of times each!
Steak came first. I taught myself which cuts were which and how to cook steak to a perfect medium rare. Next, I learned of the differences between fillet and rump and then of sirloin and rib. From there, I learned about the lesser known cuts, like the fantastic flat iron and the perfectly juicy, flavoursome hangar. The first, a wonderfully tender cut from the shoulder. The second, a phenomenal tasting piece of meat that some say isn’t actually a steak at all. Instead, the liken it to offal.
Before long, I progressed to the sides that went with it, first cooking steak with simple greens, then with the triple cooked chips I fully intended to master. Learning more and more about those big, earthy flavours that work so well with beef, I explored its preparation not only here in England, but in France and elsewhere in Europe. I quickly taught myself more and more about their rich, buttery sauces and wonderful creamy purees.
It took me a little longer, however, to learn about the braising cuts of beef. I have always thought of casseroles as lazy affairs quickly thrown together by rushed parents before work in the winter. Random combinations of ingredients that never tasted terrible, but always tasted the same, screaming to my young self of a meal made without love or time.
I initially ignored such cuts because of those terrible associations. When I finally came to try them out, however, I was surprised to find a wealth of complexity underpinning their simplistic appearance. I read of bourguignons and coq au vins and quickly realised there was more going on than I expected. These weren’t simple one pan dishes. They were complex, layered and well thought out. Each ingredient had been cooked just right and only added to the whole when absolutely ready.
So I began to cook. I played with those flavours and herbs, and toyed with the disparate cooking times. Eventually, I started to combine them and found the very same complexity of flavour I enjoyed so much in making curry. As time went on, I toyed with every ingredient I could find and ventured into all manner of cuisines. Finally, I found ox cheek and fell head over heels in love. Tasting ox cheek that very first time made me realise my love for steaks had grown into a love for simple rich flavours and wonderful melting textures. If you’d like to see my very own, very delicious ox cheek recipe, you’ll find it right here! And that’s all I want to provide here.
About this recipe
This recipe takes techniques used in those great casserole dishes and shows you how to cook a beef & ale casserole with ingredients you’re likely to have hanging around. Why? Because that’s what I had in the house at the time and that’s how cooking tends to work sometimes! We don’t always have what we need, but there are usually alternatives we may not even know are there.
The Easiest, Tastiest Beef & Ale Casserole Recipe
- 400 g Beef Shin or any cut of braising beef
- Thyme or any fresh, hardy herb – rosemary or sage would be fine, as would oregano
- Bay Leaf
- 2 Onions
- 2 Large Potatoes
- 1 Bottle or Can Beer Ale or Lager
- 4 Rashers Bacon
- Olive Oil
- Cooking Oil
- Pre-heat an oven to 160c.
- Dice your beef shin into suitably sized pieces and season with salt, then dredge in flour and sear in a hot pan, before setting aside.
- Pick the leaves from a handful of thyme, then leave for later.
- Chop and fry off the bacon in a hot pan to the desired crispiness and then set aside.
- Peel and turn some potatoes, cutting them down to a suitable size, then set aside.
- Peel and cut one onion into eighths, lengthways. Season with salt and set aside.
- Finely dice a stick of celery, an onion and a carrot to make a mirepoix and fry on a low – medium heat for a few minutes. Season with salt and add some finely diced garlic in for a further few minutes.
- Add the beef back in and half of the bacon. The rest can be used for garnish.
- Add some thyme and a bay leaf, stir in, then add the beer, the turned potatoes and the onion you prepared earlier.
- Cook, covered, in the oven for about 2 hours.
- Check the liquid level and top up if necessary, then cook for a further half an hour.
- Finally, remove the bay leaf and stir in some cream to give the sauce a little body.
- Check the seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Garnish with olive oil, parsley and the remaining bacon, then serve.