Carbonnade Flamande is a traditional and ever-popular Belgian stew, often served with buttered egg noodles in America, but with fried potatoes (pommes frites) in Belgium. The flavor is deep, rich, seductive, and captivating.
Carbonnade Flamande is often served in a cocotte, a small individual heatproof covered dish, with fried potatoes on the side. Some Belgian cooks add carrots to their Carbonnade. No matter how it is served, this is a tasty dish!
- canola or olive oil, for cooking
- 1/4 pound (3 to 4 slices) thick cut bacon, chopped or cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
- 2 to 3 pounds (1.25 kg) stewing beef, chuck or blade, cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large cooking onion, chopped or thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Cup beef stock (more as necessary)
- 1 can or bottle heavy ale or dark stout (a Belgian beer is preferable)
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- egg noodles or pommes frites, for serving
- butter, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Set a wide pot or braising dish over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and cook the bacon until crisp; transfer to a shallow bowl, leaving the drippings.
- Brown the beef in the drippings on all sides, working in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper in the pan and setting it aside on a plate as it gets browned and crusty on the edges. Add the onion to the pot and cook until golden; add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the beef stock to the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Return the beef to the pot, pour over the beer, stir in the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and add the sprigs of thyme. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Remove the lid, and if the gravy is too thin, set the pan on the stovetop and simmer uncovered until it thickens.