A bouquet garni is a French term for a bundle of herbs – simply tie a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf securely together with butchers string. This allows the flavour of the herbs to enhance the dish but then it can be easily removed before the casserole is put into the pie dish.
Heat the beef dripping in a large frying pan over a high heat. Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chuck steak in the seasoned flour to coat and sear it in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, until properly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned steak into a casserole dish.
Reduce the heat slightly, add the bacon lardons, onions and carrots to the frying pan and cook until the bacon fat begins to melt and the onions are golden brown on all sides. Then tip into the casserole with the beef.
Pour a little of the beer into the frying pan and bring to a simmer, scrapping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all the sediment. Then pour the whole lot into the casserole with the meat and vegetables. Add the rest of the beer with the beef stock, bouquet garni and brown sauce, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and put into the oven for 2 hours.
Tom Barry’s family farm is Baytown Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath. He is the third generation on the farm taking over from his late father, Thomas Barry in 2008 and keeps Hereford cross suckler cows as well as pedigree Hereford cows. Herefords are such a docile breed and as a part time farmer, with teenagers helping around the farm, it’s important to have a breed that’s easy to look after and handle. Tom’s farm is in the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) for the past 5 years, where frequently taking soil samples and the completion of a nutrient management plan are required.