Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Carbonnade à la Flamande: A fancy way
of saying beef simmered in beer

The dish has a fancy name: Carbonnade à la Flamande (click for the recipe), but it’s essentially sliced beef steak and onions simmered in beer.
   And man, it’s delicious.
   This dish, the name of which translates to Flemish Beef Stew, has been a favorite of my husband and I since we first made it several years ago.
   I was thrilled to find that Jacques Pepin, the superstar chef from whom the recipe comes, has included it in his Essential Pepin cookbook.
   It definitely deserves a place there.
   I do recommend this recipe with a warning, though.
   Its smell is pervasive. It will waft through the house, and stay for at least a day.
   If you don’t close doors to bedrooms, bathrooms and closets an onion odor may even stick to towels or clothing!
   If you close doors in your home while you make this, or even crack a window while you do, it will definitely help.
   It’s worth taking these extra steps to smell-proof your home – this dish is a cinch to make and its flavor is deep.
   Stew lovers will be in heaven.
   There is two hours of simmering time, so this is a recipe for a late Sunday afternoon.
   The recipe calls for using an enameled cast-iron casserole, but we have always used a Dutch oven or large stock pot and it works fine.
    In a casserole dish, Dutch oven or stock pot, pieces of beef flatiron or blade steaks are lightly browned in batches and then taken out of the pot.
   Three cups of thickly-sliced onions are then browned in the pot, then flour is stirred in. The beer from three 12-ounce (354 ml) cans or bottles is slowly poured in, and the meat is returned to the pot.
   Thyme and bay leaves are added, then the pot covered and simmered over low heat until beef is tender, about two hours.

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