For day 14 of Soup Month 2013 we made a dish that I've wanted to try for a long time, a Savory Beef and Ale Cobbler. No, this cobbler doesn't have apples or peaches in it, but instead offers a beef stew-like filling and is topped with chive and onion biscuits.
You basically take an inexpensive piece of beef, add carrots, onions and some mushrooms, then add a bit of beef stock and a bottle of hearty ale. Pop this in the oven for a long, slow-cooking afternoon, and low and behold, you have a meal fit for a king. Juicy pieces of beef, tender enough to be cut with a spoon, surrounded by a rich gravy. The only thing that makes this better are the delicate biscuits on top. So yummy!
My husband had quite a debate at work about this dish. It seems many people had never heard of a savory cobbler, declaring that cobblers are fruit based with sugary toppings and sweet filling. Well, I hate to break the news to them, but savory cobblers are not a new thing, and they have been popular in England for centuries. The British prepare a cobbler in the same manner Americans prepare casseroles. Any type of meat can be used such as lamb or beef, assorted vegetables are tossed in, and the biscuit topping is frequently an old-fashioned scone recipe with herbs and cheese.
For the biscuits on top of this cobbler I used some fresh chives that are still going strong in my garden and a bit of onion powder. The biscuits browned up nicely and soaked up just a bit of gravy as they were perched on top of the cobbler, and they added a nice texture to the dish.
This meal does take some time to prepare, so it's a great dish to make on the weekend when you can let it cook low and slow and then enjoy the tasty results with a glass of dry red wine. Enjoy!!
1/3 cup Flour
1-1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1-1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 lb Beef Chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 TB Olive Oil, divided
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 TB Minced Garlic
1 Red or Orange Bell Pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces
6 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered (button, Portobello or other firm mushrooms will work)
1 bottle Goose Island India Pale Ale (or your favorite IPA)
3 cups Beef Stock
3 Bay Leaves
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
For the biscuit topping
1-1/4 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
3 TB Butter
5 - 6 TB Milk
1 TB Minced Fresh Chives (or other herbs)
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Onion Powder
In a small bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper. Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of this mixture over the beef until the meat is evenly coated. Reserve the extra flour mixture and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring, until the meat is seared on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a platter and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the peppers and mushrooms, stir and cook for 3 minutes longer.
Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat. Add the beer to the pan and stir gently to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the gravy thickens slightly. Return the beef to the pan, cover the pot and place the pan in the oven at 325 degrees to slow roast for 1 hour.
(After the cobbler has cooked for an hour is when you will add the biscuits to the top of the meat and vegetable mixture, so you will want to have the biscuits ready ahead of time.)
In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder, then add the butter in thin slices. Use a fork to blend in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir with a fork until you have a smooth dough. (You may need just a bit more milk, just add 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough is smooth.)
Place the dough on a lightly floured board, roll it our to about 1/2-inch thick and cut out circles of dough using a cookie cutter.
Remove the pot from the oven, remove and discard the bay leaves and add the dough circles on top of the cobbler. Return the pot to the oven uncovered and bake for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and flaky. Serves about 6.