Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Belgian Beef Carbonnade

My husband Brad and I are going on vacation to Europe for two whole weeks soon, and one of our stops (a brief stop and not the focus of this trip) will be in Brussels, primarily so we can eat our way through Belgian cuisine. Our brief visit to Brussels is planned to include eating the very best moules (mussels), frites with spicy mayo, Belgian waffles, Belgian beef stew and of course Belgian chocolate, that we can get our hands on.   Planning this made me really hungary for some Belgian cuisine.  I have already made Belgian waffles, which were delicious and easy to make.  I decided to try my hand at two of my favorite Belgian dishes this week - frites with spicy mayo (coming soon) and Belgian beef carbonnade, or beef stew.

Belgian beef stew is very simple.  My recipe is a variation of a Jacques Pepin recipe that I found on the internet.  They key to this stew, and quite frankly any classic Belgian carbonnade is the quality of the Belgian pale ale that you use to make the broth, as well as the quality of the beef in the stew.  Pepin uses flatiron steaks, which are expensive and contain a bit too much fat for my style of cooking.  Instead, I elected to use lean stew beef from Fresh Direct, a great NYC area provider of quality meats.  For the beer, I went for the real deal - my favorite Belgian pale ale, Leffe Blonde, a great Belgian Abbey beer.

Belgian Beef Carbonnade
2 T unsalted butter (can be replaced with olive oil if you prefer)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs lean stew beef, cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
3 T all purpose flour
2 bottles of Leffe Blonde Belgian Pale Ale
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 thyme sprigs
2 cups baby carrots
1 cup peas

In a large Dutch Oven, melt 1 T of butter with 1 T of olive oil until it sizzles. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Cook for about two minutes.  Transfer the meat to a large plate and add the remaining butter and olive oil. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the pale ale and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the chicken stock and thyme and return the meat to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the Dutch Oven and simmer on low heat until the meat is tender - it took me about an hour.  Add the baby carrots and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, add the peas and simmer for an addition five minutes until the peas are cooked (but not faded in color) and the carrots are tender.  This was delicious and exactly how I hoped.  I can't wait to eat this dish with some steak frites in Brussels!


  1. Ooh Sasha, this type of stewed meal is so good. Oh how I do remember (smile). Ooh, and I love Leffe...

  2. It's hard to think of cozy beef stew do when it's 90° outside. I'll bookmark this and make it when the snow starts to fall. Have a good trip


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