Carbonnade a la Flamande (Belgian Beef, Beer, and Onion Stew)

Prepare….to lick your plate.

Oh my. I can not even begin to describe how wonderfully magical this stew tastes. Wa-wow. The recipe comes from my favorite magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. Do not let the fancy schmancy name of this recipe scare you away. It’s really a quite simple and elegant recipe. However, I was not elegant when I ate the stew. Yes, I’ll admit it. I licked my plate. Like a dog. Then I licked my plate some more. And perhaps, a small moan may have  escaped my lips as I was licking the plate. Perhaps. I will keep that little morsel of information to myself. 🙂

I made a couple itty bitty changes to the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe. I added mushrooms (I think next time I will also add some carrots) and 1 tablespoon of butter to saute them in. I also used dried thyme (instead of fresh thyme). The recipe calls for a Belgian beer or other dark beer such as Newcastle Brown Ale. I actually used Sam Adam’s Boston Lager…..and it tasted divine.

RECIPE: Carbonnade a la Flamande (Belgian Beef, Bear, and Onion Stew)

3 1/2 pounds stew meat

Kosher salt, table salt and coarse ground black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 pounds yellow onions halved and aliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups)

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup low sodium beef broth

1-1/2 cups dark beer (12 ounce bottle or can)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon cider vinegar


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; add about one-third of beef to pot. Cook without moving pieces until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes; using tongs, turn each piece and continue cooking until second side is well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned beef to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and half of remaining beef. (If drippings in bottom of pot are very dark, add about 1/2 cup of above-listed chicken or beef broth and scrape pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; pour liquid into bowl with browned beef, then proceed.) Repeat once more with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.
2. Set beef aside and add 1 T butter to pan and saute mushrooms until browned and tender. Remove and set aside with the beef.

3. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and tomato paste; cook, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until onions have released some moisture, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes (note: I cooked my onions a little longer, I wanted them very soft and ). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broths, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay leaves, vinegar, browned beef with any accumulated juices, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to full boil, stirring occasionally; cover partially, then place pot in oven. Cook until fork inserted into beef meets little resistance, about 2 to 2- 1/2 hours. (I think I cooked my stew closer to 3 hours, until meat was super tender and the sauce was well-thickened…..I also stirred it occasionally while it was in the oven).

4. Discard bay leaves. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

I served the stew over mashed potatoes. Creamy, dreamy, marvelous mashed potatoes…

Good grief. I dare you to not lick your plate.


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