Savor some superb Belgian stew on a dreary winter day

Ian Leatt – Foodie

When the days are short, cold and dark, all we really want to do after a long day at work is have something hearty when we get home.

Known as “Carbonnade a la Flamande”, this Belgian beef stew is made with Newcastle brown ale and plenty of onions. The flavour is a little sweet and sour, the sweet from the onions and either a little added sugar or tomato paste, and the sour from a touch of mustard or vinegar.

Slow cooked beef with garlic, onions and bacon in beer – served with Dijon mustard croutons. It’s absolute bliss. I have eaten this dish many times and it will always remain a firm favorite, especially when served with piles of fluffy mashed potatoes. Wonderful, hearty, flavorful and filling.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 3 large onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tsps. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 kilo lean stew beef cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 bottle Newcastle brown ale
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. mustard
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Preparation:

Cook bacon until crisp then transfer to paper towels and set aside. Add onions to drippings and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Sprinkle brown sugar over onions, increase heat to medium high, and cook until onions are golden brown, about 7 or 8 minutes.. Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker.

Sprinkle flour over beef. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the beef on all sides. Transfer browned meat to the slow cooker. Add beer to the skillet the beef was cooked in and scrape up the browned bits. Transfer the beer from the skillet to the slow cooker along with the reserved bacon and thyme. Mix all ingredients together.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until meat is tender.

Ian Leatt, a former chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, is sales director at Pegasus Publications.

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