Daube de boeuf

Serves 4
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Start this dish a couple days before you need it to allow plenty of time for marinading. Pre-cut braising steak tends to be cut a little thin for this dish, so get your butcher to cut thick 3-4 cm pieces.

4 x 200-220g pieces of braising beef, preferably flank, skirt, shin or ox cheeks
2 glasses of good red wine
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 bay leaf
Vegetable oil for frying
30g butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Half tbsp plain flour
1tsp tomato purée
1 Half litres beef stock (a good cube will do)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the pieces of beef into a stainless steel bowl (not aluminium) or similar with the red wine, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover with clingfilm and marinade in the fridge for two days. When you're ready, drain the meat in a colander, reserving the marinade, and dry the pieces on kitchen paper.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, lightly flour the meat with half a tablespoon of the flour, season with salt and pepper and fry the meat on a high heat until nicely browned.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently fry the onion for a few minutes until soft. Add the remaining tablespoon of flour and tomato purée and stir over a low heat for a minute. Slowly add the marinade stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil and simmer until it has reduced by half. Add the beef stock and the pieces of beef, bring back to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 2-2 1/2 hours until the meat is tender.

It's difficult to put an exact time on braised meats, sometimes an extra half an hour's cooking may be necessary. Check by tasting the meat. Once it's cooked the sauce should have thickened to a gravy-like consistency. If not, dilute a little cornflour in some water, stir into the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. I'd serve this with some mashed potato or a puréed root vegetable, such as swede or parsnip.

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