Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Black Bavarian Beef Stew

Carbonnade a la Flamande is a traditional Flemish beef stew cooked in Belgian Ale.  The first time I ever made this dish I was living half a block from the old Lakefront Brewery in Riverwest, and at that time they didn't bottle East Side Dark, only sold it in kegs.  I walked over to the brewery with a plastic pitcher and they filled it up for me, poured me a few samples of their other wares, and chatted about food and beer for a while.  What a bunch of nice guys, and though East Side Dark is still my favorite for this stew, any good dark beer will work.  You can make it with Guinness for St Patrick's day.

I love to serve it with gnocchi (another convenience product I scorned back in the day).

This is a 1.4 lb Chuck Roast.  You would never "roast" this in the oven.  It's for pot roast and braises.  The chuck is cut from the shoulder and it needs long, slow cooking to tenderize it.

I just cut into a few pieces to remove those large fat deposits, seasoned and floured it, and browned it well in a little oil.

Then the meat is removed and a whole large onion, thinly sliced, is added to the pot and deeply caramelized.  This takes a while.  You can add a bit of water if the onion begins to stick too much.  Try not to add much excess oil since it's a pain to skim it off the top later.  Salt the onions as they cook.  They really do need to get that dark to add the proper sweet flavor, and then  they pretty much dissolve into the sauce as it finishes cooking.

Then the beef is reintroduced, a whole bottle of Sprecher Black Bavarian is added along with a few allspice berries and half a bay leaf, and it gets simmered, covered, for 2 hours, or until the meat is quite tender.

Here it is.  While the beef rested, I got all the fat off the top of the sauce, and I added some shredded carrots for a little extra sweetness and some beta carotene.  They only needed a few minutes to cook.

It's so easy to pull it apart into large chunks.  Then it gets added back into the sauce...

The cooked gnocchi is mixed in...

Oooh, don't you wish you could smell that steam?

Passed the kid test:

Yes, I do have 2 children, and I love them both equally.  You will see the other one on this blog when she actually eats her dinner with anything approaching the enthusiasm of the little one.

And best of all- no leftovers!

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