This simplified version of Carbonnade is the perfect antidote to the arctic blast that’s sweeping through our nation right now.
Preparation time is minimal and oven time is 2-3 hrs depending on how meltingly soft and tender you like your onions and chunks of beef.
As with many stews, this will taste even better the following day – just reheat it gently.
I’d recommend serving it with a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes with celeriac/celery root (recipe below) and perhaps some buttered carrots – and as the dish originated in Belgium, Brussels sprouts would also be appropriate.
It also goes well with Kale & Root Veg Hash – minus the poached egg of course. Either way this sweet/sour and tangy stew will help banish the winter blues.
BEEF, BEER & ONION STEW
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced thickly
2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon of plain / all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 lb (450g) of stewing beef, cut into chunks and patted dry
17.5 oz (500ml) of strong ale
A sprig of fresh thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 300F (150C).
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide ovenproof pan with a lid and brown the meat in 3 batches for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a plate. (Browning the meat in batches will ensure the meat browns rather than steams, which is a result of overcrowding the pan).
Add the remaining oil to the pan and once hot, add the onion slices. Sauté gently until they begin to soften then add the flour, thyme, sugar and vinegar; stir over a high heat for a couple of minutes then pour the beer over everything and bring it to a boil.
Turn off the heat; add the beef back to the pan; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then put the lid on and transfer it to the oven.
Cook for 2-3 hrs or until the meat is really tender and the sauce has reduced/thickened. Check it after 2 hrs to ensure you still have liquid covering the meat. I’d stir in some extra beer if it looks like it needs it.
Serve with *mashed potatoes & celeriac (directions below) and perhaps some buttered Brussels sprouts, cabbage or carrots.
*For four people, you’ll need:
8 oz (230g) of celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 1/2 in (1.5cm) pieces (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 lbs (half a kilo) of russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 in (2.5cm) pieces (about 3 cups)
2 oz (60g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 -1/2 a cup of half and half, full fat milk or thin cream
1 tablespoon of chopped celery leaves
Add the celery root to boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes, then add the diced potatoes and continue to cook until they’re tender (approx 15-20 minutes in total). Drain thoroughly.
Return the vegetables to the pan. Heat the butter with the cream/milk and pour it over the cooked veg. Mash thoroughly, adding more (warmed) milk or cream until the mash is as smooth as you want it. Finally beat in the celery leaves and check the seasoning.
You can make this ahead and keep it warm; transfer it to a warmed serving dish, dot with butter, cover it with foil and put it in a very low oven.