Friday, May 15, 2009

Flemish stew with Belgian beer -- it's what's for dinner chez nous.

It's been a cold spring, the right weather for Flemish stew, also called beef carbonade. Bob and I ordered this several times in Belgium, with a different Belgian beer each time. I've taken a couple of recipes for beef carbonade and tweaked them for the crock pot. Although I have a cast iron dutch oven that works beautifully, I'm going to be out and about this afternoon, and don't want to tend the stove, or have the oven on for hours. It's all in the crock pot now, all I have to do is add the carrots later.

(To jog your memory: Flemish stew comes from Flanders, a geographic region that includes parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The pictures above, are from our recent trip.)

Ingredients:Olive or canola oil
2-3 onions, sliced
a few tbsp. of flour
1.5-3 lbs stewing beef cut into cubes or beef short ribs
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pint (1 and 1/4 cups) dark beer or ale
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
celery stick cut into large pieces
salt and pepper

In a big pot or skillet cook sliced onions over low head until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

Mix flour, mustard, salt and pepper is a small bowl; toss the beef cubes in it, then brown them in the same skillet or pot. When browned, put beef into the crock pot on high. Add back the onions.

Back in the same skillet, saute the garlic, then add the beer, water and brown sugar. Put the thyme sprig, bay leaf and celery chunks in too, and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the liquid over the beef in the crock pot. Turn the heat down on low and cook all afternoon. About an hour before serving, cut up a couple of carrots, boil them for 5-10 minutes, until tender but not mushy, drain and add to the stew.

Serve with good country bread, and a salad with honey-mustard vinaigrette.
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

To be really authentic, spring for some Belgian beer. But since you can buy a six-pack of other beer for what a single bottle of Belgian cost you, maybe just drink it with your favorite ale or full bodied beer. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT drink Flemish stew with a Bud lite, or a Coors or any of that other piss water. It's just wrong, OK?

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