Belgian Carbonnade Flamande Stew
Belgian Carbonnade Flamande stew is a hearty dish created from seared beef, Belgian beer, vinegar, and spices. The word “carbonnade” technically refers to any dish of grilled pork and to certain stews cooked with red wine in France; however, more commonly, carbonnade refers specifically to this hearty Belgian specialty.
This stew is a staple of Belgian cuisine, and every family and traditional restaurant has its own secret recipe. Carbonnade is known for its sweet and sour characteristics which can be created in a variety of ways. Traditionally, carbonnade gets its sweetness from Belgian beer and its sourness from the addition of some sort of vinegar or mustard; however, there are many variations of the dish, and some cooks even add cinnamon, gingerbread, red currants, or baguettes to their recipes to bring out unique flavors and characteristics.
For this particular recipe, I used a bottle of the world famous Westvleteren and a half bottle of Chimay, another world-renowned Trappist beer; however, any well-crafted, dark Belgian ale would complement this dish nicely. Remember that the main source of flavor in your stew will come from the beer you select, so make sure it’s a good one!
Serve the carbonnade over pasta or with bread. You could also serve the stew with potatoes or fries.
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into one inch cubes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
100 grams pancetta, diced (can substitute 4 slices of bacon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups dark Belgian beer
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon dry tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dry parsley
1 bay leaf
Season the cubes of beef well with salt and pepper. Add the flour to the meat and combine well until all of the flour has coated the meat.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven and brown the meat in batches until all sides are well browned. Set meat aside.
Add the pancetta to the Dutch oven and cook until starting to crisp, approximately 6-8 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set it aside with the beef.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, onions, carrots, and garlic to the Dutch oven and cook until browned (approximately 15 minutes).
Add one cup of beer to the onion mixture and stir well, scraping off any bits from the bottom of the pot until slightly reduced (approximately 4 minutes). Return the beef and pancetta to the Dutch oven with the remaining beer and all other ingredients. Bring the stew to a boil then reduce to low-medium heat and simmer until the beef is tender (approximately 1.5 hours). Check on the stew and stir halfway through to ensure it’s not burning to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add more broth or beer if needed.