Flemish Style Beef Stew - with Trappist Beer!

Pin It This is my absolute fffaaavvvooorrriiittteee Belgian dish.  Normally served with a side of frites (you are in Belgium, after all), this dish will knock you off your socks.  I mean knock your socks off (sometimes I get the simplest phrases mixed up, it's so silly).  It seems like a lot of countries have a special beef stew.  The Irish have Irish Style stew, the French have beef bourguinon, the Hungarians have beef goulash.  I even saw a Mexican beef stew while doing some googling.   Something about slow cooked beef just turns my crank.  While each style is delicious in their own way, beef slow cooked in a dark Belgian Trappist Ale really gets me going.  I got this Stoofvlees (Carbonade à la flamande in French) recipe from my Belgian friend, so read on to find how the real Belgian's make it.
Requiring fewer ingredients than other traditional beef stews.  This recipe only calls for butter, beef, onions, beer (I used Chimay Blue, a popular Trappist Ale), bay leaves, thyme, flour, a slice of bread with mustard, and some salt and pepper.  So simple, yet so delicious.  Last time I attempted this dish, the beef didn't quite turn out.  Wanting desperately for it to be better this time around, I went to the butcher's shop down the street and ordered in my best French "Un kilo de bouef por Carbonade à la flamande, sil vous plait."  She came out with a hefty cut of beef and began chopping it.  She asked me a question, which I had no idea what it was, so naturally I responded "oiu."  She began chopping a bit smaller into stew sized pieces, so I am assuming she asked if I wanted it cut.  Overall, a successful trip to the butcher and the first time I had used any french in a longgggg time.
Start by melting some butter and brown the beef in batches, about 1-2 minute each side.  Once browned, remove beef and place in a bowl.  Repeat with 2 more batches.
In the remaining butter and beef juices, caramelize the onions over low heat with the cover on for about 10 minutes.
Once onions have caramelized, add 1 T of vinegar.  Add the beef, thyme, bay leaves, flour, salt and pepper.  Stir for 2 minutes. 
Add beer.  If beef is still sticking out of the liquid, add water until all beef is completely covered in liquid.
Top with white bread with mustard, and cook over low heat for 3 hours, until bread has dissolved and beef is tender.
Then we dished it up.  Serve with a side of boiled carrots and potatoes with parsley and a fresh baguette!  Or the more obvious choice, with Frites!  :)  The weather was so great we ate outside.  I was not expecting that.  Cross your fingers it stays nice for our next visitors!
Restaurant version from our favorite Belgian Restaurant.  Served with frites.  They are perfect to dip in the excess sauce.  While we really love their dish, but ours wasn't bad either! 

Stoofvlees (Carbonade à la flamande in French)
Recipe from: My friend Marijke

1 kilogram of stew meat chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 onions chopped
4 T unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 T vinegar
1/3 c flour
33 cl dark Belgian beer
1 slice of white bread with mustard (or a few small baguette slices, shown above)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2 T butter in a dutch oven.  Add 1 batch of beef, browning each side about 1-2 minutes per side.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add 1 more T of butter and brown the second batch of beef, set aside.  Repeat until all beef is browned.  In dutch oven, caramelize the onions over low heat with cover on for about 10 minutes.  Pour 1 T of vinegar over the onions.  Add beef, thyme, bay leaves and flour.  Stir together about 2 minutes.  Pour in beer.  Add water if needed to cover stew meat.  Salt and pepper. Cook on low heat about 3 hours.    Serve with boiled potatoes and carrots or frites.  Top with fresh parsley for serving. 

Bon Appetit!
And all mixed together for tomorrow's leftovers.  I can barely wait.

This is the furball we are babysitting.  We took her on a long walk while the stew slow cooked and she is all tuckered out. 
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