Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Normally, beer doesn’t immediately come to mind when we think of French cuisine, but France borders two big beer producing countries – Germany and the biggest beer consuming nation, Belgium, both northeast of France.

Beef and onions braised in beer, known as Beef Carbonnade, originated in Belgium (Flanders) but is also traditional in northern France, particularly near the border.  Beef carbonnade is a simple rustic classic. Classic because, like many of the worlds great dishes, cooking a few good- quality ingredients with a proper technique equals crafting something greater than the sum of its parts.

Beef and onions braised in beer is a bit distinct from other French food and even if you don’t care for beer per se, you are sure to enjoy this delicious bucolic masterpiece.

Carbonades de Boeuf a la Flamande                               serves 6


¼ pound salt pork, diced
2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter plus 4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds onions, sliced thinly
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2 inch chunks.
Bouquet garni made of 4 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied together

3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beer*
1 ½ cups beef stock

1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced


  • Put 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy 12 inch skillet and brown the salt pork
  • Remove to a paper towel
  • Pour off the fat to a bowl leaving a thin coating  in the skillet
  • Now set the bowl and the skillet aside

  • In a separate similar skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter on medium flame

  • Put in the sliced onions and cook for 20 minutes or so. Importantly.- turn them frequently with a wide spatula, not stirring them, until they take on colour

  • While the onions are cooking, heat that first skillet with its fat over medium heat
  • Dry the beef with paper towels and brown about 5 at a time in the hot oil. When you put them in, shake the skillet and then let them sit a minute or two to brown, turning to brown each side. Don’t stir them.
  • If you need more fat add the pork fat that you saved in the beginning
  • When all the beef is thoroughly browned remove to a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole.
  • Shove that bouquet garni into the meat

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Take the skillet that the beef was browned in and stir the flour into the fat
  • If the mixture appears dry, add more fat (or oil)
  • Cook this flour mixture (roux) until light brown, being careful not to burn it

  • Remove from heat, pour in the beer and beef stock and whisk briskly with a wire whisk until well blended
  • Bring to boiling, whisking as sauce thickens
  • Boil for 1 minute and mix in the sugar, vinegar, garlic and thyme
  • Simmer for a couple minutes and season with salt and pepper

  • Add the cooked onions to the casserole
  • Pour the sauce atop the onions and beef and stir gently
  • If the sauce does not cover the meat, add more beer
  • Bring to boiling, cover tightly and put into oven, in the lower third position

  • Cook, simmering slowly for  2 hours regulating the temperature if necessary

  • After removing from oven, let cool for a few minutes
  • Discard the bouquet garni and taste for seasoning
  • Sprinkle the beef with the crisped pork bits and garnish with the parsley

* I suggest a robust beer, such as Chimay, Guinness Stout, or any dark malty brew

This beef and onions braised in beer goes great with buttered noodles and a green salad.

If you read these instructions once or twice beforehand, this dish is not difficult to prepare and the taste is absolutely sensational.

You can make this 1 or 2 days in advance and the flavour will actually improve. Keep the meat in the sauce chilled. When ready to serve, heat in a 325F oven for about 40 minutes.

Beef and onions and beer make a wonderful dinner. Enjoy.


Torviewtoronto said...

lovely presentation

Susan Oloier said...

If it has beer and meat, I am sure my husband would love it! Dinners at your house must be absolutely amazing.

the Junkie book said...

Wow what a gloriously put post; hey your meals are very interesting! ty for this timeless classic!

My Journey With Candida said...

I had a beef roast recipe that called for beer and onions. It cooked in the crock pot and turned out wonderful.

Your picture looks good enough to eat. YUMM!!! You made me so hungry.

maha said...

nice dish vth lovely clik....

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony,

Another classic! I've made it before and used an "Export" beer, a type of Lager that is sweeter than a Pilsener.
Another interesting point to make is the fact that Belgium has a great many lambic beers that are made like wine or champagne. These beers often have a fruit or fruity component. Might be interesting to use one of those? Could also jack up the price because these beers cost like champagne, too.

Greetings from Karlsruhe,


Joanne said...

My friend uses beer in her slow cook recipes and they always come out delicious! This looks so good.
Blessings, Joanne

anthony stemke said...

TORVIEWTORONTO: Thank You. I suppose that you could omit the salt pork in this and use your own preferred fat in this. It is a good dish though.

SUSAN OLOIER: Ha ha, but my wife loves this too. Yes, we dine well. My best to Zane.

THE JUNKIE BOOK: Thank You for your very kind words, I appreciate it.

MY JOURNEY WITH CANDIDA: I suppose this too could be made in a crock pot. I hope this could be included in your diet but I think the beef might be too acid. However, you are the best judge.
Best regards.

MAHA: Thank You for calling.

AJEJ: Hi, happy to hear from you again. Almost any German beer would be great for this (but not one very "hoppy")a pilsener would be too light. The Chimay brand is one I used to drink once in awhile and you're right, some of the Belgian lambics are really wonderful. Used to belong to a homebrew club in New Orleans and guys were always experimenting, sometimes with fruit and often they came out great. Even the Chimay was reletively expensive though.
Best regards.

JOANNE: I think this would be good in a crockpot too, though I've always made it in the oven.
Best to you.

Missed Periods said...

You had me at beer.

anthony stemke said...

MISSED PERIODS: Oh where were you when I was a student.

JishasKitchen said...

wow..beautiful presentation and it looks so tempting..:)

anthony stemke said...

JISHAS KITCHEN: Thank You,this classic is delicious.

billkirkwrites said...

Hi, Anthony. I wandered by this morning and am glad I did. This sounds delicious and your road map is perfect. In fact, I couldn't help but notice a gift in the midst of it all---there's bound to be a bit of the beer left over after using the two cups in the recipe. Can I assume that might be used to put the cook in good spirits?

anthony stemke said...

BILLKIRKWRITES: Not only can you use that but you can crack open a new one to accompany the meal.
Best regards.

ladydragonfly said...

Such wonderful food. Will have to come back and explore all your other fantastic food recipes for sure. They look great.

Matt Conlon said...

God, that looks good... and anything in beer gets a thumbs up in my book!

The Golden Eagle said...

I love the way you always add something about the countries the dish is from at the start of your posts. :)

Thanks for the recipe!

Leovi said...

This must be delicious ...!

Lizzy said...

Thanks for reminding me of this delicious dish...yours looks perfect! Have a wonderful weekend~

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, Dad's in the house and this recipe will make him drool. Thanks Anthony.

anthony stemke said...

LADYDRAGONFLY: Thank You for your kind words, you are welcome anytime.

MATT CONLON: You and me both brother.

THE GOLDEN EAGLE: Thank You, I'm glad you enjoy it.

LEOVI: Thank You.

LIZZY: Thanks,you have a wonderful weekend as well.

GENE POOL DIVA: Make him drool Gene, I now you can do it.

Amee said...

Wow!! This sounds amazing! My husband would love this dish, so it's on my "must make ASAP list!!"

anthony stemke said...

AMEE: Or,teach him how to make it and you both enjoy it.

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