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Larb Gai

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Chocolate beer-braised beef casserole

Nigella Lawson made a version of this beef casserole on the Today Show in December and I was inspired to try it on some friends last weekend. It is best prepared a day ahead so it’s ideal for when you have guests coming — and actually want to spend time with them.

Chocolate beer-braised beef casserole


Onions (5)

Bacon (1 pack) – I used turkey bacon but any bacon or pancetta would work

Beef (boneless shank, 4.5 pounds cut into 2-inch chunks)

Allspice (ground, 3 tsp)

Thyme (ground, 3 tsp)

Cornbread (4-in x 4-in chunk)

Chicken broth (low-sodium, 2-3 cups)

Mustard (5 tsp, grainy recommended but I only had Dijon)

Sugar (dark brown, 4 tbps)

Dark ale (1 pint bottle, chocolate, Belgian or English)

Bay leaves (5)

Salt (2-3 tsp, smoked or regular)

Black pepper

Snip up the bacon and sauté it in a large pan/Dutch oven with some olive oil. Roughly chop the onions, add to the crisped bacon and gently cook until they’re translucent and slightly browned. While the onion is cooking (10-15 mins), mix the broth, mustard and sugar together in a jug.

Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.

Stir the allspice and thyme into the cooked onions then add the cubes of beef. I saved time by asking the butcher at the supermarket to cut the beef into chunks for me.

With the onion and beef well mixed, crumble in the hunk of cornbread then pour in the broth mixture. Stir everything together then add the beer and bay leaves then stir again. Grind in some black pepper, bring to a boil before putting on the lid and placing the very-heavy pan in the oven for 3 hours. Add salt to taste and cool the casserole completely before refrigerating overnight. The original recipe recommended moving the dish to a non-metallic container before storing.

Serves 10 with leftovers for freezing.

Next day

Place the casserole back into your large pan/Dutch oven and reheat at 300F degrees for about 1 hour. Once heated, add more pepper and salt to taste before serving. My guests brought buttered pasta, spinach salad and ciabatta bread to accompany the main dish. Everything looked and tasted wonderful together!

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