I was sent this delicious and very warming recipe by my niece Laurita, a big food enthusiast. I had this dish many years ago at a friend's house and she used Guinness instead of ale. It was fantastic!
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
450 g thickly sliced carrots
1 to 1.2 kg beef chuck, in 5cm chunks
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley and rosemary
2 bay leaves
750ml ale or beer (Guinness works very well)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bread topping:
twelve 2.5cm thick slices from a French baguette
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Heat the oil in the pot over a medium heat on the hob. Add the onions, garlic, and carrots and fry just until they begin to colour. Use a slotted spoon to remove them. Use the upturned lid as a holding plate.
Add the beef in two batches and brown evenly. Remove the pan from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 275°F/140°C/Gas Mark 1. Return all the browned ingredients to the pot. Add the herbs, tied together to make a bouquet garni, with the beer, seasoning, and 125ml water. Stir together, cover, and cook in the oven for 3 to 3 ½ hours until the beef is very tender.
Spread one side of each bread slice with the mustard. When the beef is tender check the liquid level, which should be just covering the meat. Add a little more beer, if necessary, and remove the bouquet garni.
Push the bread, mustard side up, into the top of the liquid, squeezing the slices tightly together. Return, uncovered, to the oven for 20 minutes longer to lightly colour and crisp the bread. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
If it suits your schedule better, the beef can be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time, such as 225°F/110°C/ Gas Mark 1⁄4 for 5 to 6 hours.