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 , 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. France
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.