Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beef Carbonnade

Ingredients for Beef Carbonnade including browned beef

Caramelizing onions and garlic
Cooking flour and beer

Layering beef, onions, and herbs

Pouring beer mixture into beef and onions

Dijon mustard croutons atop stew

                        Beef Carbonnade

Carbonnade a la Flamande is, as the name implies, a Flemish dish.  However, it is also traditional throughout the north of France.  Carbonnade means “charcoal cooked” but this is a rich oven-cooked stew of beef in beer.  This rich stew was the perfect dinner to greet autumn.

This recipe is adapted from The Food of France, A Journey for Food Lovers.


Beef Carbonnade


1 oz butter

3 tablespoons cooking oil

2 ½ lbs beef chuck steak

2 cups chopped onions

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups beer (bitter or stout)

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme



6-8 slices baguette

Dijon mustard



1.        Preheat oven to 300°F.  Melt the butter in a large pan with a tablespoon of oil.  Brown the meat in batches over high heat and then transfer to a plate.

2.       Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onions.  Cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, adding more oil if necessary.  Remove onions to another plate.

3.       Reduce heat to low and pour in any juices that have drained from the browned meat if any, then stir in the flour.  Remove from the heat and stir in the beer, a little at a time.  The beer will foam.  Return to the heat and let the mixture gently simmer and thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.       Layer the meat and onion in a casserole dish, tucking the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme between the layers and season with salt and pepper as you go.  Pour the liquid over the meat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 ½ - 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.

5.       To make the croutons, preheat the grill or broiler.  Lightly toast the baguette on both sides, then spread one side with mustard.  Arrange on top of the carbonnade, mustard side up, and place the whole casserole under the grill for a minute.



I was drawn to this recipe for 3 reasons:  I love the bold flavor of beef, the picture made my mouth water, and the Dijon mustard croutons piqued my interest.


As I was browning the beef, my father-in-law kept coming into the kitchen and exclaiming, “Mmmm, that smells good!” 

The recipe says to return the juices from the browned meat into the pan.  Unfortunately, my beef did not yield any juices probably because it was so lean.  So I just used a tablespoon of oil and stirred the flour in.  As the stew simmered in the oven, the aroma was wafting throughout the house.  My family couldn’t wait to eat! 


It was definitely worth the wait.  The beef was so tender it melted in my mouth.  My mother-in-law remarked that the onions were deliciously caramelized.  We all agreed that the flavors came together perfectly.  And the Dijon mustard croutons?  Oh, they were great!  The Dijon mustard cut through the richness of the stew and provided a nice crunch. 


This was definitely a winner and my family has already asked for it again. 


What dish did you make to greet fall?

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