Cooking with Beer: Carbonnade a la Flamande
The weather is starting to get (unseasonably) cold, and after our first snowfall there are only two things on my mind: a hearty stew and beer. And now, thanks to our special guest contributor and good friend Dorrie, you can combine both in one easy dish.
There is crispness in the air, days are getting shorter, and leaves are falling off the trees. With fall in full swing, there is no better way to warm up than with a cozy Sunday Supper, such as a hearty stew combining beef and beer. I wanted to tackle a beer braised dish as soon as the first leaves changed color. When I came across a recipe for Carbonnade a la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew) in the October issue of Food & Wine, it became a must make dish.
I especially liked the recipe for its short, simple ingredient list. It is also a fairly low maintenance dish – once it is simmering, you only need to check on it occasionally. A recipe like this gives you plenty of time to sit down, have a beer and watch a little football.
We were thrilled with the completed dish, as well as the comforting aromas that filled the house while it was cooking. The beef was fork tender, the sauce was velvety and the beer gave additional depth to the flavors. We used a Victory Festbier in our preparation, but I could see this being equally successful, if not more, with a more complex beer. We paired the beef with roasted potatoes and a side of green beans, but it would also be great with buttered egg noodles.
Here’s the recipe with some variations that worked well for us. We added carrots to the dish and used some beef stock to keep it from getting too thick for our tastes. This dish should serve 4 -6.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2.5 pounds stewing beef, cut into 3 inch cubes
3 – 4 carrots, cut into small pieces
3 cups thickly sliced onions (we used sweet onions)
½ cup flour
3 12 ounce beers (Food & Wine recommends a dark Belgian style ale; we used Victory Festbier)
1 cup beef stock
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bundle fresh thyme, tied with twine
2 bay leaves
Fresh parsley, chopped for finish
Salt and pepper
In an enameled cast iron pot (a good old Dutch oven), heat oil over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add one third of the beef to the pot and cook until lightly browned on all sides (about 3 minutes). Remove from the pot and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef. Once all the beef has been removed from the pot, add 3 tablespoons of butter.
When the butter has melted, add the onions and carrots to the pot, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown (about 8 minutes). Stir in flour until everything is well coated.
Then the fun begins! Add the beer slowly, stirring as you add it to the pot. Then add the beef and any accumulated juices back into the pot. Add the thyme (both the dry and the bundle of fresh), bay leaves and beef stock.
Cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. (Note: We transferred the pot to a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours and checked on it every 45 minutes.) If the broth gets too thick, add a little more beef stock.
Once the beef is fork tender and falling apart, take it out of the oven. You can remove the meat and simmer the sauce on the stovetop if you’d like to thicken the sauce. We found the sauce to pretty thick on its own.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Season the entire dish with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with roasted potatoes (or buttered egg noodles), a tasty beer of your choice, and enjoy!
To see the original recipe, check out: