First, let’s all pretend today’s Monday and that I remembered to post this on the right day. For those of you who can’t bend your perception of reality to suite my whim, I pity you.
Today’s recipe is the classic Flemmish stew “Beef Carbonade.” This is a very simple recipe. There’s nothing flashy about it, basically you cook some meat in some beer. That means there’s nothing for substandard ingredients to hide behind.
Which is the point of today’s
rant monologue. Somewhere along the line we in America bought into the idea that luxury and good living were defined by the quantity of what we own, not the quality. We’ve let ourselves believe that it doesn’t matter if the socks fall apart after 2 months, we got a good a good deal because they came in a pack of 30 pairs. We’ve also let ourselves be told that it doesn’t matter if the chicken we eat has no flavor, or that our beef no longer tastes like beef, we get meat at every meal.
My advice to you is ask yourself, is it really worth removing everything enjoyable about meals just to increase their size? If you answer yes, please don’t make the following recipe, you’ll be disappointed.
With all that out of the way, some notes on the recipe:
I cook stew in the oven. It keeps the temperature more constant, and requires less stirring.
I like the chuck for stews, but pretty much any fairly lean, tough, flavorful cut will do. Think of each piece of stew as a mini pot roast.
If you don’t have bacon grease on hand, why not? Keep a glass jar in your fridge, whenever you make bacon, strain the grease into the jar. Use the grease for sauteing onions, frying eggs, etc.
And when possible, I do leave stews to sit for a day. It’s worth it.
3 tbsp of bacon grease.
2 lbs beef cut into into large cubes
3-4 medium onions, sliced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups Flander’s Red or Brown beers
1/2 Cup stock
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper and brown it on all sides in a dash of oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole. When the meat is browned, take it out of the pot and set it aside, then deglaze the pot by adding a splash of stock and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the broth and bits to the beef.
Put the onions in the pot and fry them gently in the bacon fat until they start to turn soft and golden, which will take about 15 minutes. After the onions have been cooking for a few minutes, sprinkle over the brown sugar, which will help them caramelize slightly.
Once the onions are cooked, sprinkle the flour over them and stir it in (a lot of recipes call for tossing the beef cubes in flour before browning them, but I’ve found that you wind up just browning the flour instead of the meat when you do this). Then add the beef and any accumulated juices to the onions in the pot.
Turn up the heat slightly, and pour in the bottle of ale. It will go all fizzy for a few seconds, but then it will calm down. Add enough stock to cover the meat and onions, along with the bouquet garni.
Bring this to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven. Let it cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender. Let stew cool, place in fridge, wait a day, then eat.
I’ve seen a couple more or less traditional recipes that call for a Tbsp. or two of mustard or vinegar to be added, or even gingerbread with mustard slathered on it to be placed on top of the stew while it was cooking. Someday when I’m feeling more adventurous I’ll give that one a go, and report back.
The primary basis for my recipe came from here. http://principiagastronomica.com/post/21