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Flemish beef casserole

FREEZING
Cool quickly, remove any excess solidified fat and pack in a rigid container or heavy-duty polythene bag. Seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months. To use, defrost gently over low heat, bring to boiling point and cook for about 20 minutes until thoroughly heated.

ingredients

serves 4
750 g (l 1/2 lb) chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, sliced
100 g (4 oz) smoked streaky bacon, rinds removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
2 tablespoons plain flour
200 ml (7 fl oz) brown ale
75 ml (3 fl oz) beef stock
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, to garnish

mustard croutons

2 large slices white bread, crusts removed, each cut into 4 triangles or squares
2 teaspoons made English mustard
vegetable oil, for frying

method

1. In a large saucepan or flameproof casserole, heat the oil over fairly high heat, and fry the meat, a few pieces at a time, until evenly brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and keep warm.

2. Reduce the heat and fry the onions and bacon, stirring occasionally, for 5 - 7 minutes until softened and beginning to colour. Add the garlic, if using, and fry for 1 minute.

3. Add the flour and stir, scraping the crusty bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until it begins to brown. Stir in the ale and stock and bring to the boil, stirring. Return the meat to the pan, then add the remaining ingredients, except the parsley. Stir well, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently over low heat for 1 3/4 - 2 hours until the meat is tender.

4. Spread both sides of the bread triangles or squares with mustard.

5. Heat the oil in a frying-pan and fry the croutons for a few seconds until they are evenly browned on all sides.

6. Drain on absorbent paper.

7. When the meat is tender, check and adjust seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with parsley and the mustard croutons.

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