Saturday, January 28, 2012

Carbonnade de Boeuf / Carbonnade a la Flamande (Beef in Beer)

I've been a crappy blogger this week - it's been over a week since my last post! However, I've got a pretty good excuse - the BF and I adopted a rescue dog! His name is Shelby, and he's an Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) mix. We've been busy socializing him and getting him used to his new home, so cooking/blogging has been on the backburner a bit. 

BUT, it's Friday, payday, and time for me to get cooking!! So, i'm making some traditional French (ok, it's actually BELGIAN) country cooking since I got a GREAT sirloin tip roast on sale at Winn Dixie.

Carbonnade de Boeuf (Carbonnade a la Flamande) is a traditional Belgian meal of beef stewed with onions and beer, seasoned simply with thyme and bay leaves. The ideal beer for this dish is a bitter/sour beer such as Ommegang Abbey ale or Chimay. I prefer to use Orval, though, if you can't find these ales, a simple Newcastle brown ale will suffice. 

Carbonnade also has a sweet & sour flavor, brought on by the use of brown sugar (or even red currant jelly) as well as cider or wine vinegar. Traditionally served over boiled potatoes or egg noodles, this is one of those great dishes that is even better the next day! 

Carbonnade de Boeuf / Carbonnade a la Flamande
adapted from Laura Calder

2 Tbsp butter or bacon fat
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 lbs sirloin tip, cut into strips (against the grain)
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt & pepper
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 cups beer (preferably Belgian Ale)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Bouquet garni of 2-3 bay leaves, 4 thyme sprigs and 4 parsley stems

Melt the butter/bacon fat and oil together in a saute pan and brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, cook the onions until softened, about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside. 

Add the flour and brown sugar to the pan; if necessary, add another Tbsp of butter if you don't have enough remaining fat in the pan. Cook for 1 minute to form a roux, then whisk in the beef stock and bring the mixture to a boil. 

Add in the ale and vinegar and return to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. 

In a large casserole dish or ovenproof pot, layer the onion & garlic mixture alternately with the browned beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the bouquet garni and top with the thickened stock mixture. 

For a bouquet garni, simply wrap the herbs in cheesecloth (or even a coffee filter) and secure with kitchen twine. I like to use a mesh tea ball for smaller bouquets containing things like cloves or peppercorns.

Cover and bake in a 325-degree oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender. Remove the bouquet garni. Serve beef atop boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes or egg noodles


  1. The Orval is one of my favorites, too, but it's not always at my store - the Ayinger Celebrator might also work well. Congrats on Shelby - few things are as awesome as a happy dog in the house!

    Also glad to see the use of cast iron. This dish is one of those that's good for a soul such as mine. I simply must try it.

  2. Hi Julia,
    I followed your blog for a few weeks. I found your very delicious recipe of Carbonnade de Boeuf a few days ago. I tried it and it´s so tasty! Special thanks to you. I´m from Germany, we had so many different sorts of beer and I tried it with a bavarian strong/dark beer (called Paulaner Salvator) - it worked too!
    Thanks, Katrin