Carbonnade of Beef

Posted By Kerri

We ate carbonnade of beef when we were in Brussels and immediately vowed to make it when we got home since it was so good. We had a whole day at home today which was lovely and while we wanted to spend some time in the kitchen, neither of us wanted to be in there for hours so this was the perfect dish. It takes a little bit of work to begin with but then it just sits there happily, simmering away and making the house smell really good.

I did quite a lot of research beforehand and found most of the recipes to be quite similar. There was a lot of discussion over whether to add the traditional slice of gingerbread spread with mustard for the last hour of cooking and while this appealed to me, it would have meant changing out of my pyjamas to go to the shop and it wasn’t that kind of day. We improvised by adding some all-spice at the beginning and a spoonful of mustard on top of some white bread towards the end instead.

It was a triumph. For something so simple and with relatively few ingredients, there was a huge amount of flavour going on. The beer added a savoury, rounded note that was far less fruity and sweet than it would have been had we used red wine instead. We served the beef with the traditional accompaniment of stoemp, which is mashed potato with vegetables. We used carrot, cabbage and leek. The leek contrasted very well with the savoury beef and lifted the whole dish. Belgian frites are the alternative accompaniment and are what we ate in Belgium, I preferred the stoemp though.

Carbonnade of Beef
Serves Two

Salt and Pepper
500g beef shin
Two rashers of bacon, finely sliced
Two white onions, finely sliced into half-moons
Salt and pepper
330ml Belgian beer
300ml beef stock
3 sprigs thyme
One teaspoon all-spice
Two bay leaves
Two small slices white bread spread with Dijon mustard

Start by seasoning the beef well with salt and pepper. Add some oil to a large pan and brown the meat in batches over a medium heat. Remove to a plate. Deglaze the pan with some water or beef stock and add that to the beef.

In the same pan, cook the bacon until the fat has rendered. Remove from the pan and add to the beef.

In the same pan, add some more oil, turn the heat to low and brown the onions. You want them to be dark and sticky which will take about 30 minutes. When they’re cooked, stir in a tablespoon of flour and cook for a couple of minutes.

Return the beef and the bacon to the pan with the onions, season, add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for two hours.

Remove the lid, add the mustardy bread and cook for 30 minutes to one hour. Check for seasoning and serve.

Oct 2nd, 2010

2 Comments to 'Carbonnade of Beef'

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  1. Antonia said,

    Oooh – I’m really sold on this and must give it a try. Although I’m not a fan of beer, I really enjoy the different flavour it gives to a casserole. A really deep savoury flavour. Hadn’t heard the tip about mustard-smothered gingerbread before. Very interesting!
    .-= Antonia´s last blog ..Caramelised apple cake =-.

  2. Kerri said,

    Thanks, Antonia. I’m not a huge beer fan either but really enjoyed the different flavour in this dish. I’d really like to try it with the gingerbread next time.

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