Both Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson like this recipe, which in theory should make it a good bet, and in practice it is. You need a cheap cut of beef, a dusting of flour and a little good liquid, nothing more. This is an easy dish with a beguiling flavor, and notwithstanding its humble ingredients makes an elegant and stress-free company dinner. We cannot improve on Mrs. Grigson’s instructions, so have simply adapted them to conform to bfia’s customary numbered sequence.
Preheat the oven to 275°
-a trimmed 2-2 ½ lb chuck or thick flank steak
-salt and pepper
-about 2 Tablespoons flour
-a large onion, thinly sliced
-2 Tablespoons mushroom ketchup
-3 oz tawny port
-3 oz stout
- Season the meat and rub it all over with the flour.
- Put it into a shallow ovenproof dish in which it can lie flat. Put the onion on top in an even layer.
- Pour in the ketchup, port and stout and cover the dish with a tight-fitting lid of foil, and put it into the oven at 275°, for 2 ½ hours. If your oven dish has a lid, place it over the foil.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and a simple mushroom dish.
Notes: The source of this adaptation is Jane Grigson’s English Food (London 1974).
- Resist all temptation to increase the amount of liquid; it may seem scanty but both the onion and the beef will throw off liquid during the cooking process, and you do not want to dilute the rich sauce.
- Any port, including cheaper ruby, will do; we like the drier tones of tawny port.
- If you do not have any mushroom ketchup, substitute either malt or red wine vinegar, or a little less of one of the vinegars topped up with some Worcestershire.
- We add a drip of hot sauce to the basic recipe and sprinkle the sliced steak with minced parsley and green scallion tops.
- Fried mushrooms, sliced, quartered or whole, are delicious with the stewed steak.
- For something fancier but by no means mandatory, choose one of our mushroom recipes from elsewhere in the practical.
- The original recipe specifies a cooking time of 3 hours; we found that too long. Elizabeth David also boosts the oven temperature to 290°; that, too, is unnecessary.
- Both Mrs. David and Mrs. Grigson note that top round is a viable cut for this dish but we consider it less forgiving because a little more prone to dryness.