Of course it doesn't have to be Friday night for you to eat this, but it is great for a casual but special kitchen supper after a busy week. Although it takes time to cook, the effort involved is far from overwhelming, and most of the time it just looks after itself in the oven. It works really well with mashed potatoes and green beans.
To serve four people you need:-
2 tablespoons oil, a mild vegetable oil if possible
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound of beef chuck, stewing or braising steak, cut into small chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy
2 tablespoons flour
a couple handfuls of medium size mushrooms, cut in quarters
3 carrots, peeled and cut in pieces
1 bay leaf
½ cup good red wine
1 cup of beef stock1 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
You need a large casserole with a lid that goes from stove top to oven for this, or failing that a large frying pan and a large casserole, both with lids. Preheat the oven to 325℉ or 160℃ (150℃ for fan ovens).
In the frying pan or casserole on the stove top, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the oven over medium heat until it begins to become translucent, but try not to let it brown. Add the chunks of meat, and brown over medium heat, turning often.
At this stage, you are going to flambé the meat, so go carefully. Make sure sleeves, hands, hair and arms are out of harm's way and please read this whole paragraph before proceeding! Have the lid to the pan handy beside the stove top. Add the brandy to the pan, leaving the heat at medium. Carefully light a match and light the alcohol, immediately blowing out the match (without blowing out the flames) and picking up the lid to the pan and holding it just out of harm's way. You want the meat and onions to flame a bit and burn off the alcohol, without incinerating dinner. The flame should extinguish itself in a couple of seconds. If that does not happen, you can always VERY CAREFULLY put the lid on and extinguish the flame that way. Dispose of the match carefully, ensuring it is totally extinguished.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat and onions, stirring lightly to coat. Stir in the beef stock and red wine. If you are using a frying pan, transfer the mixture carefully to the casserole now. Add the carrots, mushrooms, bayleaf and spices. Place the casserole in the oven and cook for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every half hour or so.
Remove the oven and take out the bay leaf.
Depending on the water content of your vegetables and the meat you have used, the sauce may need adjusting at this point. If the sauce is too thick you can add a bit more stock or red wine and stir through to loosen it. Should it be too runny, dissolve 1 tablespoon of corn flour in two tablespoons of water and stir it through the sauce. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for about five minutes just to heat everything through. Remove the casserole from the oven again, taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve a nice glass of red wine or red grape juice.