Carbonnade Flamande

Eet smakelijk!

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November 17, 2020

Prep: 2h 30min

Cook: 2h 30min

Serves: 4

The gist.

A classic Belgian dish, carbonnade flamande stands out in the world of stews as the beef is marinated in a malty, Belgian-style ale. The meat is slowly cooked and then served with a heaping basket of fries. Make this one for a special occasion as the weather cools and the thought of a hearty stew grows ever more tempting.

Christmas lights are going up early this year. The pandemic is ridiculously difficult on everyone, so inviting the annual feel-good season a few weeks early seems like a good idea to me. If it’s in your power to make your home environment a little jollier, do it. With all that said, here’s a comfort-stew that pairs well with the early arrival of the holiday season.

Carbonnade! If you’ve ever had beef bourguignon, it’s extremely similar. Beef bourguignon is a French stew made with beef and wine. Cross the northeast border of France and you’ll find the same dish with one major difference: beer is used instead of wine. For this dish try to find a dark, malty beer. For the authentic experience, pick something Belgian. Chimay, Westmalle, and St. Bernardus are all great options. I used Westmalle Dubbel for the particular version pictured on this page.

I’m not Belgian, so everything I know about this dish comes from the couple years I spent living in Belgium. From what I experienced, carbonnade is a classic comfort meal. I’ve been told it’s one of those recipes that has been passed on from grandma to grandma to grandma. Why grandma is always passing down the recipe and never grandpa is a mystery to me - I’m just telling you what I’ve been told.

Here’s what happens with this dish. First, the beef spends a few hours marinating in the chosen ale before being seared on the stovetop. The onions are then sautéed. Finally, the beef, onions, marinade, and all remaining ingredients are combined into one pot and are cooked in the oven at a low temperature for at least two hours. The beef becomes tender, the collection of flavors meld, and the smell from your kitchen will magically gather every single person in your house into one room.

Carbonnade is normally accompanied by some form of potatoes, with fries being the most common. Belgian fries are fried not once, but twice. So if you don’t feel like attempting to make a batch of Belgian fries, get your hands on some crispy french fries to serve with the stew.

As they say in Belgium, eet smakelijk (enjoy your meal)!

Ingredients

Steps

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Carbonnade Flamande

  • Prep time: 2h 30min
  • Cook time: 2h 30min
  • Serving size: 4
A classic Belgian dish, carbonnade flamande stands out in the world of stews as the beef is marinated in a malty, Belgian-style ale. The meat is slowly cooked and then served with a heaping basket of fries. Make this one for a special occasion as the weather cools and the thought of a hearty stew grows ever more tempting.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g (1 lb) chuck roast, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
  • 300 mL (10 oz) dark ale (Belgian if possible)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 56 g (4 Tbsp) butter
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 240 mL (1 cup) beef broth
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) pearl onions, peeled and kept whole
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 15 mL (1 Tbsp) cider vinegar

STEPS

  1. Combine the beef, ale, and garlic cloves in a medium bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2.5 hours.

  2. Strain the marinade from the beef, reserving the marinade. Dry the beef pieces with a paper towel. Combine the flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper in a medium bowl. Toss a few pieces of beef at a time in the flour, shaking off the excess flour and storing the floured beef on a plate.

  3. Preheat the oven to 140° C (280° F).

  4. Heat an oven-safe dutch oven over high heat. Once hot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter in the pot. Add half of the beef pieces to the pot and sear, flipping as necessary, until a brown crust has formed on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and repeat with the remaining pieces of beef. Transfer to the plate of beef when done.

  5. Decrease heat to medium-high, and add the diced onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft, stirring frequently.

  6. Return the beef to the pot of onions and add the reserved marinade, beef broth, mustard, sugar, thyme, cider vinegar, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat and cover.

  7. Transfer the covered dutch oven to the oven and cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, until the beef is very tender.

  8. Serve with fries and a glass of the brown ale that was used for the dish.

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