Beer-stewed beef with apple sauce

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • a thick slice of butter
  • 750g/1lb 10oz stewing beef, in one piece
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 large onions
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 small bottles dark beer (such as Rochefort, Westmalle, Achel Bruin)
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
  • half a small jar of rosehip jelly

For the apple sauce

  • 5-6 sharp apples, such as Granny Smith
  • a walnut-sized knob of butter
  • a little sugar, to taste
  • a knife point of ground cinnamon

Set the oven at 180C/Gas4.

Melt the butter in a large, lidded casserole – the heat should be quite sprightly.

Cut the beef into four pieces, each nicely seasoned with salt and black pepper, then lower into the lightly sizzling butter. Let the meat colour on one side, then turn it over.

Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions while the meat browns. Once it has coloured, remove the meat to a plate and lower the heat.

Add the onions and the leaves from the thyme sprigs to the pan and cook over a low to moderate heat until the onions are soft and very pale gold. 

Stir in the flour and leave until it is the palest biscuit colour, then pour in the beer. Once the sizzling has subsided and it is approaching boiling point, return the beef and its juices to the pan and lower the heat. Add the bay leaves and mustard. Season with salt and black pepper, cover with the lid and place in the oven.

Leave for a good 1-1½ hours, checking every half hour to make sure the liquid has not dried out.

For the sauce, peel the apples, core them and cut into rough chunks. Put them into a pan with a little water and all of the butter and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook to a sloppy mass. Sweeten with a little sugar and the ground cinnamon, to taste, then beat with a fork or wooden spoon until smooth.

Just before serving, lift the lid from the casserole and stir in most of the (rosehip) jelly. Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper or more jelly as you go. Serve with the apple sauce alongside. 

Boiled potatoes as big as your fist, their edges bruised and floury, are the ideal accompaniment to the dish.