As the nights draw in, I return to comfort food. Carbonnade is a northern French slow beef stew cooked in beer. This makes enough for several meals.

For two
3lb stewing steak,
cut into ¾in-thick slices postcard-size 3
large onions,
halved and thinly sliced 4 slices day-old country bread per meal
1 pint dark bitter beer 1tbsp sugar
1tbsp red wine Salt Pepper
Dijon mustard
Arachide oil
Bouquet garni

Fry the seasoned steak in oil for three minutes each side until browned. Reserve. Fry the onions slowly until soft, but not brown. Put the onions in a large casserole, add sugar and wine, and layer the steak on top. Tuck in bouquet garni. Pour the beer almost to cover the steak.

I recommend Tomos Watkin’s Cwrw Gaeaf from Swansea, brewed with fuggle and golding hops. Put it on the hotplate and bring to the boil, then put it in the slow oven—150˚—for at least 2½ hours, but better for four.

Ten minutes before serving, spread the bread with Dijon mustard and submerge it in the dark sauce with the casserole top off. Serve with more country bread.