Aled Beef

Aled Beef

Medieval cooking often used ale rather than wine or water for slow-cooking meat.  This recipe is essentially a slow-cooked, stew made with sweet ale rather than wine.  The dried fruits give a sweet stickiness to the flavour and the mix of fruit and vegetables make this a fantastic filling for a steak pie – just spoon into a pie dish and bake with a pastry top.  I have amended the recipe from its historical cousin, as that calls for over a kilo of dried fruit as well as mead (honeyed beer), which is overpowering and unfamiliar to modern tastebuds.  This homage to the medieval version is both delicious and simple to prepare whist retaining some of its heritage.

1.5 kg chuck steak, topside or gravy beef

600mls old ale (such as Theakston's Old Peculier, Marston's Owd Roger, Robinson's Old Tom)

500mls beef stock

½ cup cornflour

2 onions, finely chopped

1 cup dates, finely chopped

½ cup raisins, finely chopped

½ cup currants, finely chopped

½ cup dried apple, finely chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 stick of celery, cut into half moons

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 bay leaves

In a large saucepan, brown off the onions in a little oil, then add the carrot, celery and salt.  Cook until the vegetables are well coloured.

Add the spices to the vegetables and heat through.

Cut the beef into generous sized chunks – not too small as this is a long, gentle cooking process and if cut too small the meat will just dissolve into the gravy.  Roll the meat in the cornflour then add directly to the vegetables and allow to colour slightly.

Pour in the ale, covering the beef completely, then add the stock and fruits  and mix together well.

Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover and leave for at least 2 hours, checking occasionally to stir.

Check the liquids – ensure there is enough stock.  Stir the stew well, ensuring it is not sticking and add a little additional liquid if necessary.

Serve on rice, or with a wholemeal roll.