Beer-Braised Beef and Onions

For nearly a month, Shane and I have been talking about taking a quick 2-day trip up to Vermont to see the fall foliage. While we were there, we were also going to check out some food-related spots that have long been on my to-do list. King Arthur Flour’s headquarters was my top priority but we were also looking forward to visiting Otter Creek Brewery and both the Ben & Jerry’s and Cabot cheese factories. Who knew Vermont was hiding so many gems??

Our trip was tentatively planned for this weekend, but sadly we’ve decided to put it on hold. The forecast calls for rain, rain and more rain, and it’s just not the weather we were hoping for with all the driving and sightseeing we had in mind. Instead, we’re going to stay home and paint our bathroom and take care of a few other projects we’ve been putting off around here. Because that sounds almost as much fun as eating our way around Vermont, right? :)

Beer-Braised Beef and Onions

On the plus side, the icky weather will give me the perfect excuse to make comfort food. This beer-braised beef and onions is one of our most recent favorites. Any dish with this many onions is bound to make me happy, I just love onions! The tender beef braised in beer was right up Shane’s alley and helped him to overlook the onions (he does not share my love of them). This dish seriously couldn’t be any easier, which is another reason I think it’s awesome. You can even make it days ahead of time and reheat when you’re ready. That’s the approach I took, allowing it to cook on a lazy Sunday afternoon then serving for dinner later that week. Not only does it reheat beautifully, but the flavor even improves over time! Served over mashed potatoes with some roasted veggies on the side, it was pure comfort – a definite repeat here this winter.

Beer-Braised Beef and Onions
from Gourmet, February 2009 (via Epicurious)

1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, tied
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 lbs yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 bay leaves
2 (12-oz) bottles pilsner-style beer
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Pat the beef dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the beef and brown on all sides, which will take about 10-15 minutes. Remove the beef to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot along with all of the onions, the bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and well browned, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Cut a round of parchment the same diameter as the inside of your pot.

When the onions have cooked, add the beer and red-wine vinegar to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release the browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the beef and any accumulated juices on the plate. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat.

Place the parchment round on top of the beef, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Transfer beef to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Skim the fat from the top of the sauce and discard the bay leaves. Serve the beef with the onion-sauce mixture.

To make ahead: When the beef finishes cooking, allow to cool then refrigerate for up to 4 days. When you’re ready to eat, remove and discard the solidified fat from the sauce. Slice the beef, then transfer to a 13×9 baking dish and top with the sauce/onions (the sauce will not have a pleasant consistency, but just go with it, all will be remedied when you reheat). Cover the pan with aluminum foil and reheat for 45 minutes in a 325 F oven.