Thursday, March 14, 2013

Carbonnade à la Flamande ~ Belgium Beef & Onions Braised in Beer



Carbonnade à la Flamande, a specialty of Belgium and northern France, is beef braised with onions and beer and is the last dish featured in my series on French braises. Beef Carbonnade is one of the classics and a recipe for it can be found in almost any French cookbook. For St. Patrick's Day, you can turn it into an Irish stew by braising the beef and onions in Guinness.

Julia Child, in her classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, said “Beer is typical for the Belgian braise and gives a quite different character to beef than the red wine of the bourguignon.” And that is very true – the carbonnade is different from beef bourguignon or coq au vin. A carbonnade is best known for its sweet-sour combination of caramelized onions with beer. Personally I found that when comparing the beef carbonnade to the other two dishes, it doesn’t seem to have quite the depth of flavor or earthy richness of the other two French braises.

In fairness to the carbonnade however, it has only three major ingredients – beef, onions, and beer. That’s why we’ve chosen to serve potatoes and carrots alongside. But the biggest difference is that beef bourguignon and coq au vin are wine based, as compared to the beer in the carbonnade.



For the beer we used Hoegaarden (pronounced “who-gar-den”), a Belgian wheat beer with a delicious, refreshing taste. Any dark Belgian-style ale would be a good choice here.

There are probably some purist out there that would disagree with me, but I think Guinness Draught Irish dry stout is also good in a beef carbonnade, which would make it an ideal dish to serve for St. Patrick’s Day. After all, they say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

As tempting as it might sound to cook some vegetables in this, I think it's best to serve them on the side. By doing so you maintain the integrity of this classic dish and don't muddle the flavors of the sweet-sour caramelized onions. Potatoes are definitely an excellent accompaniment. I’ve seen it served over creamy mashed potatoes as well as buttered noodles. We’ve served ours today with boiled potatoes tossed with parley and butter and roasted carrots. Beer of course is the drink of choice with a carbonnade. As with most stews, this dish will taste even better a day or two after it's made.

Beef Carbonnade is definitely one of the classic braises that should not be overlooked.



Carbonnade à la Flamande ~ Belgium Beef & Onions Braised in Beer 
Adapted from Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin – serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups thickly sliced onions
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Three 12-ounce cans beer, Guinness for St. Patrick's Day
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Arrowroot or cornstarch slurry if needed for thickening

In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Dry the beef well with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Brown the beef in the casserole over moderate heat in batches, turning once, taking care not to crowd the pan or the beef will stew instead of browning. Transfer the beef to a plate and repeat in batches, using more butter & oil if necessary.

Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated, and then slowly add the beer. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

At this point, you may refrigerate the carbonnade, when cooled, for several days in the refrigerator. Scrape off any accumulated fat on the top and return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Uncover the casserole and transfer the meat to a bowl. Add the vinegar and simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. If necessary, thicken with a slurry using either arrowroot or cornstarch and water. Before serving, taste for seasonings.




This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, the Clever Chick's Blog Hop, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

45 comments:

  1. Lipsmackingly good! A marvelous stew.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I'm one of those people who actually prefers a carbonnade to a bourguignon.

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  3. Have never tasted this and it looks so good. Nice photography!! Hope you are feeling much, much better.

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  4. I do love braising beef with beer - and so every St. Patrick's Day. I love how this look - the colors beckon and now I want to play with Belgian beer. Winter is hanging on so these comfort dishes are needed!

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  5. We love this Sam..Jacques and I often even make plain stews braised in beer..
    Your presentation is lovely:)

    He loves when a popover is added for all that jus:)Or French bread.. he's a soak it up Monsieur:)

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  6. This looks soo good, Sam.. perfect for my meat and potatoes guy. I love cooking with wines and beer too, don't often find a beer recipe.

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  7. I have never developed a taste for beer but this looks so delicious that I'm going to try it. I agree about cooking vegetables separately, Sam. That way each is done just right and retains its distinct flavor and texture. Braised dishes are my favorites.

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  8. Braising beef with beer, I particularly like the stouts, gives the meat such a deep, rich flavor. Something about braising is so relaxing and comforting...

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  9. Hope that you are feeling better now. This plate just made my mouth water, so yummy. Take care Diane

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  10. Beautiful. It has to be delicious!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  11. This looks and sounds delicious!!!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and photo.

    FlowerLady

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  12. Have never tasted this but I know it has to be delicious as I love beef chuck roast.

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  13. This is one of my very favorites. I agree with you, not the depth of flavor as the bourguignon but a class all by itself.

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  14. Wonderful timing! I have half a rump roast in the freezer and this will be perfect!

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  15. Your food captures leave me drooling Sam .... a lovely recipe and the use of beer would be perfect in this dish .... must give it a try.


    "All Things French"

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  16. I've never tried a carbonnade but would love to try one just to taste the difference for myself :) It certainly looks delicious. Wonderful series that I've enjoyed very much, Sam!

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  17. I like beer:@) This looks beautiful Sam, bet it was great:@)

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  18. This sounds like such a homey and comforting dish Sam. I can take an armchair journey to France.

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  19. That looks and sounds delicious! I love cooking with beer so will definitely be trying this.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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  20. Can you believe I've never had any of the three braised dishes - I lead such a sheltered life. They have all sounded great and I can see where beer, onion, and beef is all that is needed. We've had so many irons in the fire lately, that more than basic cooking is hardly on the radar - hopefully we'll get back to it shortly.

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  21. You nailed this Belgian speciality of ours, really well, Sam! I don't like beef at all but make this with pork stew meat!

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  22. Beautiful dish! How have I missed this series.????

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    1. Mary, I started out with Beef Bourguignon, then the following post was Coq au Vin, so even without it really dawning on me, the Carbonnade made three braises in a row.

      Voila - a series of braises was born.
      Sam

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  23. I have a bowl and a fork but I have a feeling that there weren't any leftovers....this looks amazing and I do love cooking with beer. Thank you for all three recipes and the technique...I am one of those who has a hard time tossing my carrots into the pot!

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  24. This has been a truly enjoyable series, Sam. Every dish looks more fabulous than the next. Braised meats are so succulent and delicious. You really showcased them all so well!

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  25. Oh, I love this, Sam. All of my faves in one recipe. Have a great St. Pat's.

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  26. Another great braise Sam. I remember making this for the first time in the early 70's. At the time it seemed totally intimidating. Beautiful pictures and I love the vegies on the side. Hope you are better.

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  27. Sam, I love this dish and I can't wait to try it! It looks so delicious! What a nice alternative to corned beef & cabbage too, which we are having tonight!

    Sláinte

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  28. I made a beef carbonnade once and remember I thought it was incredible. I had to go to my database and see what was in it. Yup, beer and beef, but also thyme, bacon and vinegar. I'll have to try your recipe next.

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  29. I was looking at this dish earlier and the week. I have only made chili with beer. I will check out your recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us on foodie friday.

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  30. Meakin's photos are so good that it looks like I could take a bite of your wonderful carbonnade right through my computer screen. Having just cooked with Guinness, I do think it would be good in this recipe but you were true to this Belgium dish with the use of a Belgium beer. I sounds terrific.

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  31. I made a braised beef with onion and beer a while back that was just amazing. I think you're right that red wine can be richer, but that combo of beer, beef and onions just melted in the mouth!

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  32. Hi Sam,
    The flavor of this beef must be fabulous and so tender. This had to be a very special dinner that we would really enjoy.

    Have a great St. Patrick's Day and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

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  33. Your beef looks fantastic, Sam. This would be a hubby pleaser...after 27 years, I still can't get him to eat corned beef, so another slow cooked beef dish will have to do for St. Patty's Day!

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  34. That looks like perfection. It seems hard for me to make dishes like this look good, but you sure did. Guinness has come to be a great ingredient for lots of things.

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  35. ♣♣ Tis magically delicious looking, this fine Sunday mornin' ♣♣ Said in my best Irish brogue! If I hadn't already bought my corned beef & cabbage for today, I would be fixing this recipe, for sure. It looks & sounds delicious. Boiled potatoes tossed with parsley and butter is my DH's favorite way to have them. When we were in Ireland, many years ago, EVERY SINGLE MEAL came with a side of potatoes! LOL Once he ordered cream of potato soup for lunch & we thought it was so funny that they brought him a side of potatoes, too. No wonder my people starved when the potato famine hit. LOL

    Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day & hug your wonderfully talented Leprechaun of a husband, too
    fondly,
    Rett

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  36. Gorgeous dish and nice presentation. I could dive right into that and not come up for air until it is gone! I hope y'all are doing well and enjoying an early spring.

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  37. The simplicity of this is really appealing.

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  38. the beef looks so tempting. :)

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  39. delightful is the first word that comes to my mind. Anything braised in beer is amazing let alone a combination of beautiful beef and hearty veggies! LOVE

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  40. A beautiful, colorful and delicious looking dinner!

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  41. I have such an affinity for braised meat dishes, but rarely share them on my site because they are so hard to photograph well. Your pictures are stunning! I can almost taste it from here.

    Hope you're doing well:)

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  42. Looks awesome and so tasty Sam...I think I can try to make this using beef ribs...
    Hope you are enjoying your week :)

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  43. Your blog is a visual feast!

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