Imagine a dish that combines the beefy-ness (is that even a word?) of Beef Bourguignon and the natural sweetness of French Onion Soup, you get Carbonade Flamande, a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with a lovely beer from Belgium. The beef is slow-cooked to perfection, with the help of the enzymes in the beer, they become so tender that you can break it apart just by lightly pushing it with the tip of a fork, while the natural sugars are slowly extracted from the onion, mixing perfectly with the sweetness of the beer. This dish is usually paired with french fries (which are invented in Belgium), boiled potatoes or mashed potato.
- 1 kg (about 2.2 lb) Chuck Beef
- 1 medium Sweet Onion
- 1 Shallot
- 30 g (about 2 tbsp) Butter
- 1 L (about 4 cups) Belgium Abbey Beers
- 2 cloves
- 2 fresh Thyme
- 2 fresh Bay Leaves
- 2 pieces of Bread (preferably Gingerbread)
- some mustard, salt, and black pepper
How To Make This:
- Cut the chuck beef into 5 cm (about 2 inches) cubes, you don’t have to trim the beef because the fat is where all the flavors come from. Marinate the beef cubes in 1/2 L (2 cups) of beer for about 1 hour with some cloves, you don’t want to marinate the beef for too long because the enzymes will turn the meat from tender to mushy.
- Drain and dry the beef, save the beer. Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper, then in a heated pan, place 15 g of butter in the hot pan, then immediately sear the beef cubes in the pan, cook each side for about 2 min or until they turn brown. Place the browned meat in a container, don’t clean the pan.
- Thinly slice the onion and shallot, then in the same pan, add 15 g of butter over medium-low heat, cook the sliced onion and shallot for 10-15 min or until they turn into a dark brown, completely soft and reduced about 1/2 in size. You can add a tbsp of brown sugar for some extra sweetness.
- While the onion is being caramelized, let’s talk about the beer. I used St. Bernardus Brewery’s Abt 12, which is not a certified Abbey beer, but any Belgium brown ale will do, with a bit bitterness, fairly heavy body, and a pronounced fruitiness and cereal character. Some people use Trappist beer, which is a bit pricey compared to most, but uses whatever you prefer.
- Place the caramelized onion and browned beef cubes together in a heavy duty stew pot or dutch oven, mix in a bit of flour, then add all of the beer, herbs. Then generously spread some brown mustard on 2 pieces of bread (preferably gingerbread), place them face down into the pot and let it soak. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 hours.
- Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve the stew with some french fries, boiled potatoes or mashed potato.