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Comforting Little Casseroles

['600 g (1 lb. 5 oz.) stewing beef, cut into cubes', '50 g (about 4 Tbsp.) butter', 'Olive oil, for frying', '3 onions, finely chopped', '1 bottle of dark beer', '2 tbsp. white wine vinegar', '1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard', '½ tsp. ground ginger', '1 bay leaf', '1 thick slice of gingerbread (about 50 g)', 'Salt and freshly ground pepper, to season', '1 ¼ kg (2 lb. 12 oz.) Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks', '150–200 ml (about 5–7 oz.) hot milk', '50 g (about 4 Tbsp. butter)', '2 egg yolks', '125 g (about 4 ½ oz.) grated mature Cheddar cheese', 'Freshly grated nutmeg']

Sprinkle the meat with salt and freshly ground pepper, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Heat the butter and a small splash of oil in a heavy-based pan and brown the meat, in batches, over a high heat on all sides, around 3-5 minutes in total. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Fry the onions in the fat in which you fried the meat until they’re starting to get quite brown, around 10 minutes. Pour in the beer and the vinegar, and add the mustard, ground ginger and bay leaf. Crumble in the gingerbread and return the meat to the pan. Bring everything to the boil, cover with a lid and turn the heat down as low at you can. Stew the meat for around 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until it’s very tender. You might need either to add a little more liquid, or boil down the cooking liquid at the end.
Meanwhile, make the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Lightly salt. Bring to the boil, then partially cover the pan and simmer for around 20-25 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash together with the hot milk and butter until smooth. Mix in the egg yolks and half of the grated cheese, then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Taste the stewed meat and add salt and pepper if necessary. Divide amongst 4 small ovenproof casserole dishes and top with a layer of mashed potato. Sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese.
To eat at once: Place a casserole in an oven preheated to 400°F until the cheese has melted, around 10 minutes. If you like, you can put it under the grill for the last few minutes of baking to give you a crisp brown crust.
To freeze: wrap the casserole, dish and all, in a freezer-proof cling film or put in a freezer bag, and freeze.
To reheat: Thaw (for example, you can take one out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the fridge—it will then be thawed when you come home in the evening.) Unwrap and heat for 20-25 minutes in oven at 400°F. You can also heat the casseroles straight from the freezer if necessary—this will take 45-60 minutes in oven at 400°F.

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