Delia Smith's Winter Collection
JANUARY 26 2012


Oooh la la, beef! You look so fantastic in your designer beer! And what is that intoxicating scent you are wearing? I still can't believe it was only 2 1/2 hours ago I was cutting you into 2 inch chunks to be seared before getting all glammed up in your rich, glossy beer sauce. I have to admit, the searing part was a bit of a pain... but I just know your resulting deliciousness will make it well worth the effort!

beef in designer beer with garlic-oil mashed potatoes. YUM!

My braising steak today was a nice hunk of chuck roast that I carved into the requisite 2-inch squares. Or at least tried to... the shape of the roast and a large ribbon of fat that I avoided lead many of the squares to be smaller or irregularly shaped. I am fairly confident this did not affect the quality of the dish.

today's braising steak will be chuck roast

dark mahogany looks so good on you, my dear beef!

Once my "squares" were seared to a "dark mahogany colour on all sides", they came out of the pan so the sliced onion could get a similar treatment. Then back into the pan with the aforementioned designer beer. Tonight's fashion-forward brew came from a local designer who may or may not have recently won Project Runway (spoiler... they didn't).

The Widmer W'12 Dark Saison was a bitch to drink, strong and yeasty with a serious kick, but luckily it mellowed perfectly into a bitchin' sauce for my high-fashion beef squares. It did take 2-1/2 hours in a 300ºF oven for that transformation to take place, but I was patient and passed the time with a helping of Top Chef Tex-ass sprinkled with slightly stale chex mix.

So, what goes better with a big hearty beef than mashed potatoes? Mashed potatoes with garlic-infused olive oil, that's what! A necessary accessory (and we really must accessorize, darlings) for the rich, unctuous marriage of beef and beer. Delia enjoys using her hand mixer to whip up the potatoes (so 1995!). In the 21st century, stand mixers are the new hotness, although I find potatoes from the mixer to be less than desirable (a bit gluey rather than fluffy). But I agreed to use it just this once, for Delia. Into the potatoes went olive oil that had been gently steeping a few garlic cloves for the last hour, plus a good amount of salt and pepper. Tasty! Kinda gloppy :(

next time I'm busting out the food mill. sorry Delia.


Looks amazing! But, just wait, it gets even better. The tender beef cloaked in it's unbelievable beer sauce will now be topped with toasted french bread spread with mustard and lots (!) of Gruyere cheese to be broiled before being served. That's right... cheesy toasts on top of the stew! Oh hell ya!

cheesy toasts! I love you!

Well, beef, it seems I underestimated you. You are even more delicious than I ever imagined!

"WOW!" - darling hubby
"OH. MY. GOD." - your intrepid blogger

dinner is served

I have heard from reputable sources that poor Delia is all out of fashion with the Brits. They seem to favor Jamie Oliver and other Food Network type "chefs". I say phooey! Food this damn good will NEVER go out of style.


Serves 4 - 6

In the 1960s, every other restaurant was a bistro and every other bistro served carbonnade de boeuf à la flamande, a traditional Flemish recipe that translates as beef in beer. But, like other once-hackneyed 1960s' recipes, I think it's now been neglected and there's a whole new generation now who probably haven't yet tasted it. For them, here is the latest version, the only difference being that we now have a vast range of beers with smart labels to choose from. Not sure which one to use? Do what I do and go for the prettiest label!

2 lb (900 g) braising steak cut into 2 inch squares
15 fl oz (425 ml) designer beer
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz (350 g) onions, cut in quarters
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon flour
A few fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the croutons:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 x 1 inch thick slices French bread, cut slightly diagonally
6 level teaspoons wholegrain mustard
4 oz grated Gruyère cheese

You can make the croutons well ahead of time and, to do this, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Drizzle the olive oil onto the baking sheet, add the crushed garlic, then spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet. Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn them over so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes till crisp and crunchy.

When you're ready to cook the beef, lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Take a flameproof casserole, place it over direct heat, then heat the oil until sizzling hot and fry the meat, 3 or 4 pieces at a time, until they turn a dark mahogany colour on all sides. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan or they will create steam and never become brown.

As you brown the meat remove it to a plate then, when all the meat is ready, add the onions to the pan, still keeping the heat high. Toss them around until they become darkly tinged at the edges – this will take about 5 minutes. After that add the crushed garlic, let that cook for about 30 seconds or so, then turn the heat down, return the meat to the casserole and sprinkle in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir until all the flour has been absorbed into the juices. It will look rather stodgy and unpromising at this stage but not to worry – the long slow cooking will transform its appearance.

Now gradually stir in the beer and, when it's all in, let the whole thing gently come up to simmering point, and while that's happening add salt, freshly milled black pepper and the thyme and bay leaves. Then, just as it begins to bubble, put the lid on, transfer it to the centre shelf of the oven and leave it there for 2½ hours. Don't be tempted to taste it now or halfway through the cooking as it does take 2½ hours for the beer to mellow and become a luscious sauce.

Just before you want to serve the beef, spread the croutons with the mustard and sprinkle them with the grated Gruyère, then arrange them on top of the meat and pop the casserole under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling. Then serve straight away.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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