Everybody needs a failsafe, rich and warming beef casserole recipe for winter. This is mine. I always use shin, because it has such a good flavour and texture, but other cuts are fine. Red wine is essential – and to drink too.
2-3 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
1.5kg shin, chuck or other stewing beef, cut into 2.5cm dice
12 shallots, peeled
1 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar (such as Forum Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 bottle (75cl) full-bodied red wine
400g passata or creamed tomato mixed with 12g tomato purée
3 sprigs of thyme or 2 tsp dried herbes de Provence
8 cloves of garlic (fewer if you prefer)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160C/fan oven 140C/Gas mark 3.
Heat the oil in a wide, thick-based pan and quickly brown the meat. Add the shallots, fry for 3 minutes, sprinkle on the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Transfer the beef and shallots to a casserole, leaving a residue of floury paste around the pan. Add the vinegar to the pan and cook it until almost nothing remains (and your eyes are stinging if you’ve been standing in the steam). Stir in the red wine, bring it to the boil and boil fast for 3-4 minutes to reduce a little.
Add it to the meat with the remaining ingredients, being generous with the pepper. If the liquid comes much below the top of the meat add some water, barely to cover.
Cover the casserole tightly and cook for two and half hours. Check seasoning, then serve with celeriac and potato mash, buttered noodles, rice or polenta. Dijon mustard goes well, too.