This Retro classic still has a place on the dinner party table after all these years, especially on a chilly winter’s night. My version is full-flavoured and fuss-free, and can be fully prepared in advance, requiring only reheating at serving time.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1/3 cup plain flour
1kg stewing beef (eg. blade or chuck steak), cut into 3cm cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 French eschalots, peeled (use small onions if eschalots are not available)
150g streaky bacon, cut into small dice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 x 750ml bottle good quality red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 sprigs thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
1 piece of orange rind (use a vegetable peeler to peel from a fresh orange)
250g small button mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
1 tablespoon brandy
Salt and pepper to taste
Large flame-proof casserole dish with lid (if you don’t have one, you will need a large, deep frypan or saucepan and a large standard casserole dish with a lid)
Method (45 minutes + 1 hour 45 minutes cooking time):
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss until coated. Shake off excess flour.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the flame-proof casserole dish or frypan over medium-high heat. Add beef, turn occasionally and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan – if necessary cook in batches.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and heat the extra 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan. Add the eschalots, bacon and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the browned beef and the wine, raise the heat and bring to the boil.
6. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and orange rind and stir. Cover the casserole dish with the lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour. If using a frypan or saucepan, transfer the contents to the casserole dish and cook as above.
7. Add the whole mushrooms (cut them in half if they are not small) and the brandy. Stir and return to the oven for a further 45 minutes.
8. Test for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf, orange rind and thyme. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.