I’m salivating thinking back on this meal (which was admittedly only a few hours ago). Well, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Tender chunks of beef, slow-braised in a dark beer broth with lots of caramelized onions, shallots, and plenty of herbs. All that, plus tangy mustard and a whiff of wintery spice make this an easy dish to fall in love with.
If you like pot roast, boeuf bourguignon, or beef goulash, you will adore carbonnade. Don’t get me started on how good your house will smell while this simmers on the stove. Sit back and enjoy a glass of Belgian beer while you wait. Salut!
-1 lb. stewing beef, such as chuck roast (avoid pre-packaged stew meat, which tends to be gristly)
-1 Tbsp. flour
-1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and halved (about 5 med.)
-2 small onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
-1 Tbsp. butter
-olive oil, as needed
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 c. vegetable or beef broth
-1/2 pint (300ml) dark Belgian beer, such as Chimay Blue
-1 Tbsp. brown sugar
-3 bay leaves
-leaves of 4 fresh thyme sprigs
-handful of parsley, chopped
-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-2 gingersnap cookies plus 1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, or one piece Lebkuchen (German gingerbread)
-1 tsp. Dijon or spicy mustard
-salt and pepper, to taste
1. Trim and slice the beef into 1-in. cubes. Pat dry with paper towels (to ensure your meat browns, not steams). Sprinkle with the flour, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat.
2. Heat half the butter and a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a deep, thick bottomed pot on medium-high until bubbly.
3. Add half the meat to the pot and allow one side to brown thoroughly. Do not stir for several minutes until a dark crust forms. Turn with tongs and brown the remaining sides. Remove the seared meat to a bowl, leaving the oil behind.
4. Add more olive oil (if needed) and the remaining beef to the pot. Brown and remove to the bowl.
5. Add the remaining butter to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the shallots and onions. Stir and shake regularly until softened, browned, and caramelized all over. Take care not to burn.
6. Deglaze the pan with a little warm broth, stirring up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the herbs, reserved beef, beer, and minced garlic.
7. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and stir well. Smear the Lebkuchen or gingersnaps with mustard and place on top of the stew (these dissolve and thicken the stew). Stir in cocoa, if using.
8. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pot with a piece of foil, then top with the lid.
9. Simmer for 2-2 1/2 hrs., stirring occasionally. Uncover for the last half hour of cook time.
Serve with buttered, parsleyed spaetzle or egg noodles and lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce. Braised endive makes a nice side.
p.s. Cheers to bushwickgirl for the inspiration!