Monday, January 14, 2013

Third Coast Sailor's Beef and Potato Casserole

An inexpensive cut of beef becomes as tender as prime rib after a lengthy beer-infused sauna in this Swedish-inspired layered dish of meat, potatoes, and onions. A bottle of Third Coast beer lends just enough flavor and aroma to heighten this casserole into fare worthy of Valhalla.  So simple, yet the taste it delivers is so satisfying.  Top it off with plenty of chopped bright green parsley (Scandinavian cooking usually involves a lot of parsley) and tangy cornichon pickles to cut through the richness of the beef and potatoes.

For those of you that are wondering why it's called "Sailor's Beef": it's a simple, traditional Scandinavian dish that could be placed in a low oven in the morning, and by the time the sailors returned from a day at sea, the meat would be tender enough to cut with a fork.  It's sure to satisfy any sea-faring sailor or landlubber alike.
For this dish, you will need:

1 1/2 pounds bottom round steaks, 1/4-inch thick
Salt and coarse black pepper
Flour, for dredging
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large or 3-4 medium onions, sliced
1 large bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
4 large starchy potatoes (2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
1 bottle warm Bell's Third Coast beer
Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Chopped cornichons, for garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 275ºF. Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge with flour.  Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Brown half of the meat on each side and remove to a plate. Add more oil and butter and repeat.

Once all the meat is browned, add the remaining butter, the onions, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.

 Cook until light golden, 10-12 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Arrange one-third of the potatoes in a casserole dish, season with salt and pepper and cover with half of the onions and half of the meat. Repeat the layers and top with the remaining potatoes. Pour the beer evenly over the casserole and cover.

Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours, until very tender.  Garnish with the parsley and chopped pickles and serve.

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