Here’s the recipe I promised! It’s (slightly adapted by me) from a wonderful book called The Feast Nearby, by Robin Mather–it’s all about eating locally and on a budget.
Anyway, this recipe is Beef and Onions Braised in Beer–I’ve made it twice now and I feel like it’s definitely worth the little extra bit of preparation that it takes. It is delicious! She does mention that the darker the beer is, the better the dish will end up, and I think she’s probably right–the darker beers have more sugar and the resulting dish is a bit more complex.
The following are the ingredients:
2 T olive oil
3 pounds onions, sliced
1 4- to 5-pound beef chuck roast
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 t dried thyme
2 12-oz bottles dark beer
2 T red wine vinegar
2-4 T brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
These are the directions, paraphrased slightly, because I didn’t want to type the whole thing out and because I think sometimes all the directions aren’t necessary. Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (or your completely awesome new Dutch oven that you now use for EVERYTHING). Add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes (it always takes mine longer than that).
Here’s a picture of my beautiful Dutch oven cooking those onions. No, it never gets old.
Take out the onions with a slotted spoon and plop in the beef, which you’ve already trimmed of fat and gristle (yum) and chopped into about 1-inch cubes. Brown the beef, adding more oil if needed. Put the onions back in and add some salt and pepper, a bay leaf (I skipped that–just not a fan of fishing them out later), the thyme, and the beer.
Put it in the oven and let it cook about 3 to 3.5 hours or until the beef is tender.
Take the pot out of the oven and add the red wine vinegar and two tablespoons of the brown sugar. Here’s where she says you can add more sugar, then, if you want, but I thought 2 tablespoons was PLENTY and I like my food sweet, so I’m thinking 4 would be way too much for most people. Mix up the cornstarch and water and add it to the pot, cooking for a few minutes on the stove-top until it thickens. She says to serve it over egg noodles, but we like it on couscous or rice.
Then, as promised, here’s the recipe for the squash I served with it–this recipe is simplicity itself (I made it up). Cut a squash in half, and take out the seeds. Put it cut-side-up on a baking sheet, and put a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of honey, some salt and pepper, and some dried thyme on each half. Cook it until it’s soft–probably about an hour. Scrumptious!