Thursday, January 3, 2013

Black & Tan Beer-Braised Beef and Onions

The holidays are, thankfully, behind us, and it’s time to press on with the New Year.  Once January hits I start thinking about Super Bowl (even though it’s now been pushed into February – the 3rd this year --thanks to additional playoff games, and added revenue.  It’s just WRONG! But I digress)

I discovered this recipe on New Year’s Day about four years ago while rummaging through Gourmet magazines.  Since then, it has become a staple of the Super Bowl buffet.  It’s make ahead (two of my favorite words), always delicious, and men love it.

Black & Tan Beer-Braised Beef and Onions
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

3 pounds yellow onions
1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) bottle of Guinness
1 (12-ounce) bottle of Harp
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 sprig of fresh thyme

Halve onions lengthwise, then slice lengthwise 1/4 inch thick.
Pat beef dry and season all over with 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 5-to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef on all sides, about 15 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

Cook onions with bay leaves and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt with the remaining tablespoon oil in pot, scraping up brown bits from bottom and stirring occasionally, until onions are well browned, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Cut a round of parchment paper the diameter of the inside of pot (near the top). Set parchment round aside. (I actually used a Dutch oven for this without the parchment – I’ve done it both ways – and found the results were the same.)

Add beers and vinegar to onions and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Add beef, thyme sprig, and meat juices from plate and return to a boil.

Cover with parchment round (if using) and lid and braise in oven until meat is very tender when pierced in several places with a meat fork, about 3 1/2 hours.

Transfer beef to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered, 20 minutes. Slice meat. Skim off fat from sauce and discard thyme and bay leaves.  Reheat if necessary.

Serve braised beef with onions and sauce.*

*As the beef in this recipe improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead (up to 4 days) and chilled in sauce (covered once cool). I refrigerate it at this point.  When I’m ready to serve it, I discard the solidified fat, remove meat from the sauce, slice it, place it in a shallow baking dish, and drizzle it with about a cup of beef stock. I then cover it tightly with foil and heat in a 325°F oven for about 45 minutes. The gelled sauce that remains I reheat in a saucepan, adding just a splash of brandy, and serve it on the side.

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