Saturday, October 13, 2007

mmm... beefy!

When Sal and I were together in Belgium, he had gotten Flemish Beef Stew... and it was sooo good! It's thick and dark and sweet... and served with fries. It's basically a heart attack special ;)

Well, last week Sal opened a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgone, which is a 'traditional top fermented reddish-brown ale from the West Flanders region of Belgium. This refined ale also know as 'The Bugundies of Belgium' is a blend of 8 and 18 months old ales following careful maturation in oak casks. 100% natural and unpasteurized.' It was so dense and sweet... but very good. The only problem is that he didn't finish it and had to leave for work for the week. So this meant I had leftover beer for cooking!

And what would I make with left over beer... but Flemish Beef Stew, of course! And it came out pretty damn close to what we had in Belgium. As a general rule, I don't usually cook much meat... and it's not that I have a problem with eating meat, I just like veggies (and sugar... hehehe.) But this was so good, I thought I would share the recipe. I would recommend this for any cold winter day. OH, and make it a couple of days ahead if you can, it helps let all the flavors meld together.

Flemish Beef Stew Cooked in Beer
(Vlaamse Stovery
or Les Carbonades Flamandes)

4 pounds boneless stew meat,
such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Belgian beer (Look for a rich, dark, and slightly bitter beer, such as Rodenbach or a dark Abbey beer.)
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoons red currant jelly (or dark brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar

1. Season the beef cubes with the salt and pepper and dredge with the flour. Shake off any excess.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the beef cubes and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the beef cubes, or they will steam instead of sauté. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, if necessary. Transfer the beef cubes to a heavy Dutch oven.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes. If necessary, raise the heat toward the end of the cooking time. It is important to brown the meat and the onions evenly to give the stew its deep brown color. The trick is to stir the onions just enough to avoid burning the but not so often as to interrupt the browning process. Combine the onions with the meat in the Dutch oven.

4. Deglaze the skillet with the beer, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits, and bring to a boil. Pour the beer over the meant. Add the thyme and bay leaves.

5. Simmer, covered, over low heat until the meat is very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly and vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes. This sweet-and-sour combination will give this hearty stew its sprigs and bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

OH! And one last thing... serve it with fries. I used this recipe tonight for them, and it worked out well.

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