Flemish Beef Stew Cooked in Beer
(Vlaamse Stovery or Les Carbonades Flamandes)
Serves 6 to 8
4 pounds boneless stew meat,
such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Belgian beer
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 tablespoons red currant jelly (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
1. Season the beef cubes with the salt and pepper and dredge with the flour. Shake off any excess.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the beef cubes and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the beef cubes, or they will steam instead of sauté. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, if necessary. Transfer the beef cubes to a heavy Dutch oven.
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes. If necessary, raise the heat toward the end of the cooking time. It is important to brown the meat and the onions evenly to give the stew its deep brown color. The trick is to stir the onions just enough to avoid burning the but not so often as to interrupt the browning process. Combine the onions with the meat in the Dutch oven.
4. Deglaze the skillet with the beer, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits, and bring to a boil. Pour the beer over the meant. Add the thyme and bay leaves.
5. Simmer, covered, over low heat until the meat is very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly and vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes. This sweet-and-sour combination will give this hearty stew its sprigs and bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.
Note: If this recipe looks like it will make too much for you, go ahead and prepare it anyway, for the stew freezes beautifully. Then you have an instant dinner awaiting your pleasure.
'Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy' - Ben Franklin