Carbonade Flamande is full of caramelized onions, bacon, and slow cooked beef making this Beef Stew from Belgium the perfect recipe for winter comfort food.
Carbonade Flamande is a traditional Belgian dish from Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of the country. This stew gets hints of nutty malt flavor from the ale that mingle with the sweetness of the onions, creating a delicious blanket for the tender chunks of beef.
It is definitely a “meat and potatoes” kind of dish. Not like a beef and vegetable stew that boasts ample veggies intermingled with the beef stew chunks, Carbonade Flammande is a thick and comforting pot of beef and onions. The stewed beef is traditionally served with wedge fries or boiled potatoes and a hearty, crusty bread. And, it is the perfect dish to warm you up after a long day out in the winter snow.
Using Beer In Carbonade Flamande
The beer you choose for your Carbonade Flamande is important to the flavor of your finished dish. Tradition calls for either a Belgian Brown Ale or Flanders Red Ale. We went for the Belgian Brown Ale in the version pictured here. The malt of the brown ale gives the stew a nutty and slightly spiced flavor.
A Flanders Red Ale falls in the category of sour ales and gives the carbonade a lighter, slightly tart flavor. If you like sauerkraut with your beef or love a Sauerbraten, grab a Flanders Red to use in your carbonade. You won’t be disappointed!
Try them both and let us know which is your favorite version!
- 2 lb stewing beef, cut into 2” cubes
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 4 onions, sliced
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 bottle Belgian Brown or Flanders Red Ale* (12 oz)
- 1 c beef stock (we prefer low sodium)
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp salt (more to taste)
- ¼ tsp pepper (more to taste)
- Heat a medium soup pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Season the beef cubes with a little salt and pepper and place them in the pot to sear. Quickly sear the beef cubes on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef from the pot. (If necessary, do this step in batches so you don’t crowd the pot.).
- After the beef cubes have been removed, add the diced bacon. Sauté over medium-high heat, until crisp, 3-4 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate and set aside.
- Drain all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat from the pan and add the sliced onions to the bacon fat. Sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar and continue to sauté until golden and caramelized, 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook until the flour is moistened.
- Add the ale to deglaze the pot. Scrape any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the beef and bacon back to pot. Add the stock, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Add extra broth or water as necessary so that the beef is nearly covered with liquid.
- Place the lid on the pot and simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours.
- After 1 ½ hours, check the stew to make sure the liquid is reducing to a nice, thick sauce. If there is still too much liquid, simmer uncovered for the last 30 minutes.
- Serve with wedge fries or boiled potatoes and hearty bread.
* A Belgian Brown Ale will give your stew a nutty, spice flavor. A Flanders Red will give it a lighter, slightly sour flavor (like sauerbraten).