Belgian Beef Stew (Carbonnade Flamande)

This melt-in-your-mouth beef in a thick, hearty gravy will have your taste buds dancing and pairs perfectly with crispy fries!

Makes

4-6 servings

Prep time:

1 hour

Total Time:

4 hours

Good For:

Dinner

Inroduction

About this Recipe

Okay, I admit it. I went searching for Belgian recipes solely that I’d have some things to tie in with A Song Unheard and The Number of Love, my books that feature Belgian siblings Lukas and Margot. I found some lists, paged through until some things caught my eye, and decided to experiment. Boy, am I glad I did!

 

Carbonnade Flamande is a Belgian beef stew made with a Flemish Sour Ale…but it’s not beef stew like I know it. It’s more like stewed beef in a thick, hearty gravy. And it has bacon. Need I say more?

Well, I will, LOL. I found this to be a combination of beef stew and French Onion Soup in some ways, but with a rich, complex sauce more like a gravy than soup broth. You don’t fill a soup bowl with it. You instead do a serving size like you would if you were eating pot roast. It would in fact be fantastic served over pasta or rice.

Traditionally, however, this Belgian Beef Stew would be served with Belgian fries…which are French fries, but the twice-fried variety. If you’re looking for a recipe for those, I already have one up in my Fish and Chips recipe! I used that same recipe for these and they turned out perfectly and paired perfectly too.

Curious about the sour ale? I’d never heard of it before, but we went hunting and found Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, a red ale that has a certain kambucha thing going on. Definitely sour! My husband enjoys a nice hearty ale but had to sip this one for HOURS, it’s so sour. I don’t like much alcohol. I took a sip and puckered my lips. It really does remind me of kambucha, which I don’t love either, LOL. I was dubious, but it works really well in the stew! The brown sugar cuts the sour, and it adds a depth to it that had my husband labeling it one of the most complex-tasting and rich dishes I’d ever made, “restaurant worthy.” The beer is expensive though, making this a rich dish in more than one way.

It’s also time intensive, fair warning. None of the steps are hard, but definitely read the recipe to know how many hours you need for marinating and then simmering. I got started around noon and just got it on the table at 5. That’s not all active time, of course! But be prepared to go back to do the next step all along the way.

All that to say, it has its drawbacks, but it’s definitely worth it! We highly enjoyed it and plan to make it again!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1 pound chuck roast, trimmed and cubed
  • 1 11.2oz bottle of Flemish Sour Ale
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine beef, beer, garlic, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt in a large Ziploc bag or bowl and marinate for at least two hours or as much as overnight.
    .
  2. When you’re ready to begin cooking, remove the beef, reserving the marinade, and pat it dry with paper towels
    .
  3. Using a dutch oven or big pot, heat the olive oil and then fry the beef until it’s browned on all sides and cooked through, around 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and put on a plate for later.
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  4. Using the same pot or pan, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and add to the beef, leaving the grease in the pan.
    .
  5. Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the bacon grease and fry until they’re tender and brown, about 10 minutes.
    .
  6. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions, cooking for a minute.
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  7. Add the beef broth to the pan, whisking and scraping the bottom to create a nice gravy. Add the reserved marinade, the beef, the bacon, and the thyme to the pan.
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  8. Simmer for at least an hour, up to two.
    .
  9. Add the brown sugar, the parsley, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
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  10. Serve with fries.

Notes:

This is more stewed beef than beef stew—consider it beef in gravy rather than a soup. It would be great over rice or pasta but is traditionally served with a side of twice-fried fries.

From the Books

This traditional Belgian dish would have been a favorite of the De Wilde siblings, Lukas (from A Song Unheard) and Margot (from The Number of Love). While they’re from the French portion of Belgium instead of the Flemish side, dishes like this would have been enjoyed all through the country, and I know the recipe would have traveled to England with their family too!

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