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Carbonnade à la Flamande

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2012 at 11:47
Many thanks to you for offering your thoughts on this, Chris - carbonade flamande has become one of my top 5 favourite dishes to make and enjoy!

Based on the comments and suggestions here from you and Daikon, I was able to give some improvements a try ~ My youngest son was sick yesterday, which necessitated my staying home from work in order to care for him and take him to the doctor. Because of the business of the day, I had planned on simply getting some frozen pizzas for the family for supper; however, I discovered that in our local, small-town grocery they are extremely expensive. As I walked past the meat case, I saw a very beautiful 4-pound rump roast at a really nice price - about half of what all the pizzas were; in fact, the price was so good that I was also able to afford the beer for carbonade, which was the only other ingredient that I didn't already have at home. Normally, I use chuck roast for this dish, and it works very well; however the rump roast, in my opinion, is equally suited for carbonade, with decent marbeling and really good braising properties to bring out its wonderful flavour - in my opinion, it is nearly as good with rump roast as it is with chuck roast.

I took the roast home and prepared the carbonade following the same basic recipe as in the opening post, using 5 onions, white balsamic and the other ingredinets as listed. For the beer, I used Shock Top Belgian White, from Anheuser-Busch:



Quote We’ve shaken up traditional tastes by brewing  a spiced Belgian-style wheat ale with real orange, lemon and lime peels, and then added a little coriander spice to the mix.  This uniquely-crafted and award-winning ale is unfiltered to create a brew that is naturally cloudy with a light golden color and a smooth, refreshing finish.


Probably not the most traditional selection out there to use, but it was one I hadn't tried, so I figured why not? Normally, I'll use 1554 from New Belgium, a very good choice which is based on an historic Belgian recipe, or an excellent choice from a local brewery in Belt, Montana called Beltian White; either of these has worked very, very well for carbonade, and are easily my two top choices. The former is darker, deeper and probably more "original," but the latter is very nice as well - in my opinion, they are equally good, in different ways. After trying the carbonade with this Shock Top, I'd have to say that it is also a "dang good" choice.

I tried to incorporate some of the suggestions in the preceding posts, such as Daikon's advice to sear the meat in batches. This worked very well, giving a nice, beautiful sear to the meat using my Tramontina, even on a medium temperature setting; however, I do have one question:  I noticed when i seared the beef, then set it aside to do the next batch, that the seared meat "bled" out a lot of "juice," filling the bowl that was holding the seared beef. Is this normal and nothing to be concerned with, or should I be searing more moisture out of the meat (which will of course turn into fond in the pan and be returned during the braising process)? Should I toss the juice back into the pan to reduce into fond, or simply add it back to the dish when I return the beef to the pot?

I was also able, for the first time, to try two of Chris's suggestions above: the dijon-slathered bread slices - using whole wheat bread - and adding a bit of dark chocolate to the dish. Both additions were very good, contributing very positive depth and flavour to the finished carbonade. The dijon mustard brought the dish into really nice balance with the salt, the sweetness from the onions and the acidity from the white balsamic, and worked very well with the full-on beef flavour. The dark chocolate brought a richness to the foundation of the dish and, I think, contributed to the texture or "mouth-feel" of the carbonade. In both cases, if I wouldn't have been the one adding them, I wouldn't have known what they were, but I could sure tell the difference as compared to previous attempts. These were outstanding suggestions that really improved an already-delicious meal, and I heartily thank Chris for both of them.

As noted above, this carbonade turned out very, very well. The braised beef and the carmelised onions gave the dish a rich, dark colour, and the long, slow cooking in the enameled cast-iron Dutch oven reduced the beer and juices down to a really nice, thick stew, which we served over rice. In addition to the impressions I already mentioned, the beef was very tender with delicious, hearty beefy flavour, with bright, spicy highlights from the beer, which worked very well for this. The entire family enjoyed it, and it was easily one of the best carbonades I've ever made....and light-years better than frozen pizza! Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2012 at 18:03
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:


I tried to incorporate some of the suggestions in the preceding posts, such as Daikon's advice to sear the meat in batches. This worked very well, giving a nice, beautiful sear to the meat using my Tramontina, even on a medium temperature setting; however, I do have one question:  I noticed when i seared the beef, then set it aside to do the next batch, that the seared meat "bled" out a lot of "juice," filling the bowl that was holding the seared beef. Is this normal and nothing to be concerned with, or should I be searing more moisture out of the meat (which will of course turn into fond in the pan and be returned during the braising process)? Should I toss the juice back into the pan to reduce into fond, or simply add it back to the dish when I return the beef to the pot?
Normal.  Sometimes you'll get more juice from resting meat, sometimes less.  Just add it back to the braising liquid when you return the meat, where it will reduce just fine -- no need to slow down your searing process by reducing the accumulated juices right then.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2012 at 20:40
I tried this last night with a 4 lb eye of round roast, cut up into 1-1.5" cubes.

I did it pretty much like Chris described. I added the mustard bread & near the end of cooking a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. I used red wine vinegar as that was all I had around the house at the time.

Wow! It was very tasty. I didn't get any pics this time, but I will next time I make it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2012 at 08:52
Thanks, Daikon!

Darko - that sounds great ~ those final touches that Chris introduced us to are really the jewels of the crown, in my opinion.

This recipe can be as basic as one wants it to be - making it a true peasant food - and with a few simple additions it can really be thrown into overdrive. Glad you like it, and that your first preparation was a success - I am sure that it won't be your last!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2012 at 10:32
No worries there, this will definitely not be my last time. Soups & Stews are one of my favourite things to make, simply because minor changes in ingredients or techniques make totally different dishes. 

For me a soup or a stew is like playing with LEGO.... A few basic building blocks and a few minutes, and you can master the technique.  After that, you can spend a lifetime playing with it, and make something different each time. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 November 2012 at 10:25
I hope no one minds yet another carbonade post, but it all honesty, I never get tired of this wonderful stew. It has to be hands-down one of the best things in life, and has become a family favourite. Being simple and easy to prepare is only an added bonus to this humble, nutritious, delicious peasant meal.

For this preparation, I tried a couple of different things, and also incorporated a few concepts discussed in our many conversations on this subject. The first was a happy accident; I had wanted to try using some glace de viande that I had made a while ago:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/glace-de-viande-your-secret-weapon-for-flavour_topic2482.html

Unfortunately, I discovered that the kids had used all of it before I could even really give it a try - time to make some more, I guess!

Luckily, I had a "Plan B;" some time ago, I received this through a promotion on the company's Facebook page:



I had used the beef and chicken varieties before, with very good results, and was expecting wonderful things with the "new" vegetable flavour, which as far as I can tell is not yet available in my area.

My primary goal for this preparation, however, was to use a "new" (to me) beer, from Great Northern Brewing in Whitefish, Montana:

http://www.greatnorthernbrewing.com/

This wheat beer features a well-known Montana product:



I was really looking forward to trying it, hoping that it would add something just a little special to the final product.

Anyway, ready to get going, I peeled and cut my onions, then prepared the garlic, summer savory (in place of thyme) and bay leaves for their duties:



For the beef, I was delighted to be able to use a magnificent-looking, locally-grown-and-processed roast:



Our Montana beef is always a treat to use, thanks to its very good flavour.

I cut the roast into large "stew cubes" for braising:



And then watched as the batteries in my camera died - with no way to get more.

So that's the end of the pictures, but not the end of the story. I prepared the carbonade in my Tramontina enameled cast iron Dutch oven:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-6-5-Qt-Enameled-Round-Cast-Iron-Dutch-Oven/29114481

The method used was basically as outlined in the opening post here:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/carbonade-flamande_topic274.html

I also tried incorporating a few concepts and methods that came about as a result of the subsequent conversation, including:

a) Searing the beef in batches
b) Using white wine vinegar rather than red wine vinegar
c) Adding a little Dijon mustard, spread liberally the halves of a stale sourdough roll prepared according to this method:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/mrs-rivets-famous-sourdough-rolls_topic1178.html

d) Finally, I also added a bit of dark chocolate, just as the carbonade was finished.

Results were amazing, everything came together very well. The star of the dish - my Montana beef - was fork-tender and mouth-watering, a perfect canvas for the rest of the flavours of the dark, rich, thick stew, which was served over home-made garlic mashed potatoes. I was especially pleased with the use of the vegetable base and the huckleberry beer; each contributed their unique characteristics to the final flavour of the dish without taking over.

All-in-all, another carbonade success! My only question to those who haven't tried this easy, delicious stew is, "Why not?"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 November 2012 at 10:34
Carbonade Flamande is a lovely autumn and winter dish.

Sorry about your camera´s batteries Tas; none the less, I am sure it was delicious with Montana Beef!

To all Other Forum Members: all the dishes look absolutely sensational.

Thanks for posting.

Kind regards.

Margi
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2013 at 12:54
Hi there!

This looks like quite an old thread but since I'm new, and since carbonnade a la flamande is one of my favourites, I thought I'd make a contribution. I lived in Belgium for 3 years and ate so much of this stuff, most often with salty french fries. I've experimented with my own recipe, and really recommend using Rodenbach (a very sour red Flemish beer) or Grimbergen (dark and sweet). They tend to be difficult to find (I get them here in the UK from an online specialist) but worth it! And a little pain d'epices will melt into and thicken the sauce and give it a delicious flavour! Here is the recipe I use for pain d'epices:

http://girlsguidetoparis.com/archives/french-pain-depices-recipe-paris/#.UR_RmmcnIr0

Ian :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2013 at 13:48
Hi, Ian. Thanks for posting the link.
 
And welcome to Foods of the World. We're a diverse bunch, here, with experience ranging from newbies to professionals, sharing a passion for global cuisines.
 
Why not stop by the Members Lounge forum, and tell us a little about yourself, particularly your cooking interests.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2014 at 00:24
Not long ago, I made this wonderful stew yet again with a new-to-me Belgian-style beer that I found while on a trip to Montana's capital of Helena:


As always, very good results!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 December 2017 at 15:00
Thanks to Saveur's online magazine and their "Recipe of the Day," - as well as recent correspondence from Chris - my interest in and love for this dish has been re-kindled.

I have been doing some more reading up on this wonderful stew, and have a couple of "new" recipes to post; actually, they are not new at all, but they are new to the forum.

I am not touting any of these as authoritative or even necessarily "authentic," but they do present the dish from a couple of different points of view and might offer some insight or ideas as to the ingredients or preparation. For myself, I intend to follow Chris's notes and advice, and look forward to the results.

The first is from Julia Child herself:

Quote Carbonnades a la Flamande

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child



http://a.co/4s1WTo7

Note: Please take a moment to follow the link above and read about this book; doing so helps this forum pay for itself!


Ingredients:

3 lb. piece of lean beef from the chuck roast or rump
2 to 3 tablespoons rendered fresh pork fat or good cooking oil
1.5 pounds (or 6 cups) of sliced onions
Salt and pepper
4 cloves of mashed garlic
1 cup of strong beef stock or canned beef bouillon
2 to 3 cups of light beer, Pilsner type
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 large herb bouquet: 6 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. thyme tied in cheesecloth
1.5 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch blended with 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the beef into slices about 2 by 4 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Dry on paper towel. Put a 1/16-inch layer of fat or oil in skillet and heat until almost smoking. Brown the beef slices quickly, a few at a time, and set them aside.

Reduce heat to moderate. Stir the onions into the fat in the skillet, adding more fat if necessary, and brown the onions lightly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the garlic.

Arrange half the browned beef in a casserole and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread half the onions over the beef. Repeat with the rest of the beef and onions.

Heat the stock or bouillon in a browning skillet, scraping up coagulated cooking juices. Pour it over the meat. Add enough beer so the meat is barely covered. Stir in the brown sugar. Bury the herb bouquet among the meat slices. Bring casserole to a simmer on top of the stove, then cover the casserole and place in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so that liquid remains at a very slow simmer for 2.5 hours, at the end of which time the meat should be fork-tender.

Remove the herb bouquet. Drain the cooking liquid out of the casserole into a saucepan, and skim off the fat. Beat the starch and wine vinegar mixture back into the cooking liquid and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully correct seasoning. You should have about 2 cups of sauce. Pour the sauce over the meat.

When ready to serve, cover the casserole and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes until the meat is thoroughly heated through. Either bring the casserole to the table or arrange the meat on a hot serving platter and spoon the sauce over it. Surround with potatoes or noodles and decorate with parsley.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 December 2017 at 15:35
The second recipe that I am posting comes from the spiral-bound supplement book of recipes that is a companion to Time/Life's Foods of the World volume dealing with Belgian cuisine:

Quote Carbonnades a la Flamande
Flemish Beef-And-Beer Stew

From Time/Life's Foods of the World - A Quintet of Cuisines (1970)

To serve 4:

3 pounds lean boneless beef chuck, sliced ½ inch thick, then cut into strips 2 inches long and 1 inch wide
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons lard
1/2 pound lean sliced or slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups (16 ounces) beer, preferably dark beer
1 cup beef stock, fresh or canned
A bouquet of 4 fresh parsley sprigs and 1 medium-sized bay leaf, tied together with string
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees*. Pat the strips of beef completely dry with paper towels and drop them into a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and a few grindings of pepper and toss the meat about with a wooden spoon until it is evenly seasoned.

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart enameled or stainless-steel casserole, melt 4 tablespoons of the lard over high heat until it is very hot but not smoking.

Brown the beef in the hot lard, a handful at a time, turning the strips frequently with a slotted spoon and regulating the heat so that they color richly and evenly without burning.

As they brown, transfer the pieces of beef to a plate and brown the remaining meat similarly, adding more lard to the pan if necessary.

Drop the bacon bits into the fat remaining in the casserole and, stirring frequently, cook over moderate heat until the bits are brown and crisp and have rendered all their fat.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour all but about 1/4 cup of fat from the casserole.

Add the onions to the casserole. Stirring frequently, cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes, or until the onions are soft and delicately browned. Add the garlic and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon.

When the flour is completely absorbed, pour in the beer and 1/2 cup of the beef stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the sauce thickens.

Add the bouquet of parsley and bay leaf, the thyme and sugar, and return the beef and any liquid that has accumulated around it to the casserole. Stir in the bacon.

The liquid should completely cover the meat; if necessary add up to 1/2 cup more of the stock. Cover tightly and place the casserole in the middle of the oven.

Bake for 1.5 hours*, or until the beef is tender. Just before serving, stir in the vinegar and taste for seasoning. Serve at once, directly from the casserole or from a large heated bowl.

NOTE: Carbonnades a la Flamande is traditionally accompanied by hot boiled potatoes.

*This seems too high (temperature) and too short (cooking time) to me; if you try this, I would suggest using the lower temperatures and longer cooking times discussed in previous posts.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2017 at 13:39
Well, I have some very good news ~

As we all know, Photobucket has recently delivered many forums (including ours) a severe blow. Because of this, Chris's beautiful photos of his preparations and methods for Carbonnade were lost.

However, with the recent re-kindling of my interest in this wonderful dish, I wrote to Chris and asked if he would be so kind as to re-send them. I am happy and grateful to say that Chris was very willing to share them again, so I have returned those photos to his post.

Chris also included another recent version that he prepared, which was made with varkenswang (pig's cheeks) and served on a bed of creamy polenta:



If I am able to get any other photos of this most special of meals, I will be sure to post them. If anyone else makes this, please share your experience with us!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2017 at 16:13
Adding to the "collective knowledge" of this dish, here is the recipe provided by Saveur's Online Magazine:

Quote Carbonnade
Flemish Beef and Beer Stew



Quote I've turned out many plates in my career, but only certain dishes have become meals I feed my own family, like boeuf carbonnade a la flamande. I was taught to make this Flemish beef and onion stew by my mentor, Belgian chef Leon Dhaenens, when I was a young cook. Unlike French beef stews made with wine, carbonnade relies on the deep, dark flavor of Belgian abbey-style beer. But what really gives carbonnade its distinctive character is the addition of brown sugar and a fillip of cider vinegar, a sweet-sour combination that plays beautifully against the caramelized onions and rich beer.

—Charlie Palmer, chef-owner of Aureole in New York City and Las Vegas


To serve 4:

Ingredients

2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 2″ x 1⁄2″-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cups Belgian-style ale, like Ommegang Abbey Ale
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf

Bread, for serving

Instructions

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes. Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Serve with bread.


https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Beef-Beer-Stew
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2018 at 10:51
Here is a recent preparation of Carbonnade Flamande, from Belgium:





Also, via correspondence and research, here are some notes on Belgian beers to be used for Carbonnade, as well as some important tips and strategies:

Quote Beers for Carbonnade Flamande -

When making carbonnades, you don’t use pale colored beer like tripel or any pils, wit (white) or whatever. The best choice to use would be a dark abbey beer or a dubbel, which is a very good option since it has less alcohol. These beers are mostly quite sweet and bitter, which is why you never use only beer as the stew liquid in a carbonnade; you will end up with a bitter preparation if there’s no water or beef stock added! More on this below.

Many swear by using a red beer, such as Rodenbach. When I was younger, red beer was very acidic and more a high summer drink, preferably drunk with a few fresh shrimp on the side that you peeled on the fly. Since many years now they took out the biggest part of the acidity. Still, it’s one of Belgian favorites for making carbonnades, together with Oud Bruin (Old Brown).


Strategies for Carbonnade Flamande -

Per kilo of meat, you should 1 bottle of 33cl beer, plus the same amount of water or stock. You want to just barely cover the meat. In the older days, people added their beer, filled the beer bottle with water and added it to the stew; simple and easy, so I do that as well. I use water and I add a talebspoon of concentrated beef bouillon, like your “Better than Bouillon” - it works perfectly.

Of particular importance is the acidity balance of carbonnade. When using abbey beer, you need to add some vinegar to your preparation to cut the sweetness of the beer. Start by adding a good tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar (whichever you prefer) per kilo of meat. Add it when you put the beer and water in, together with a generous spoon of dark brown soft sugar. At the end of the preparation, check the balance again and add a little more vinegar, if needed. When using a more acidic beer, taste first; you might not need to add so much but a little vinegar will bring your preparation to another level!

Carbonnades are all about concentrated flavors and balance; that’s why you play with the lid of the pot. Towards the end, put the lid askew to let liquid evaporate. The meat has to be completely soft and the sauce thick and dark.


Here are some very good Belgian beers for Carbonnade Flamande:

Ename Dubbel
Kapittel Prior
Westmalle Dubbel
Sint-Bernardus Abt
Sint-Bernardus Prior
Kasteelbier Donker
Rodenbach (Red)
Petrus (Red)

Regarding Sint-Bernardus Abt (with the blue label) from the Trappist brewery in Watou: There is a public secret over here about that beer. Another Trappist brewery in Westvleteren brews what has been nominated many times the best beer in the world. In fact, in much earlier days, this beer was brewed on demand by the Trappist monks in Watou. So, in Watou they know the Westvleteren recipe! So, the secret is that Sint-Bernardus Abt is a copy of the Westvleteren Trappist. Many people will nominate Sint-Bernardus Abt as a better beer than the Westvleteren beer!!! It’s one of my absolute favorites.

There's also Kasteelbier donker (donker means dark), which is very fit for use in carbonnade, but probably a bit too sweet for some to drink. Kasteelbier donker is very similar to all dark abbey beers. They called it Kasteelbier instead of abbey beer, because they own a castle (kasteel) in Ingelmunster. The family has done quite well by working hard and driving very hard deals and keeping their money in their own pockets. Frugal is the word, next to earning a lot of money; the second criteria to get rich and to stay rich! They are also well known for their Gueuze and kriek beer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 August 2018 at 11:21
While doing research for another project, I came across a slightly-different version of this dish in the spiral-bound supplemental recipe book for Time/Life’s Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provincial France (1968). Unfortunately, there were no notes or photos to go with it, but I will add it here to the collective knowledge on the subject.

I will also post it in the "France" forum, since that is where I found this this particular recipe, and because the dish is made there, as well.


Quote Carbonades de Boeuf à la Flamande
Beef And Onions Braised In Beer

To serve 6 to 8:

1/4 pound salt pork, diced
2 cups water
5 tablespoons butter
7 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 pounds)
3 pounds lean boneless beef chuck or rump, cut in 2-inch chunks
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beer
1.5 cups beef stock, fresh or canned
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bouquet garni made of 4 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied together


To remove excess saltiness, blanch the pork dice by simmering them in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes, drain on paper towels and pat dry. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat, and in it brown the pork dice, stirring them or shaking the pan frequently, until they are crisp and golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside to drain on paper towels. Pour off almost all the rendered fat from the skillet into a small bowl, leaving just enough in the skillet to make a thin film about 1/16-inch deep on the bottom. Set the bowl of fat and the skillet aside.

In another heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the sliced onions and cook them over low heat, turning them frequently with a wide metal spatula, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they become limp and lightly colored.

While the onions are cooking, heat the fat in the first skillet over moderate heat until it almost smokes. Dry the beef with paper towels, then brown it in the hot oil 4 or 5 chunks at a time to avoid crowding the skillet, adding more pork fat as needed. When the chunks are a rich brown on all sides, remove them with kitchen tongs to a Dutch oven or a heavy, flameproof casserole about 9 to 10 inches in diameter and at least 3 inches deep. Bury the bouquet garni in the meat.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. After all the meat is browned, remove the skillet from the heat and stir the flour into the fat remaining in it. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more pork fat (or vegetable oil). Return to very low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is amber color: be careful it doesn't burn. Remove from heat, pour in the beer and beef stock, and beat vigorously with a wire whisk until the roux and liquid are blended. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens. Boil for 1 minute, then mix in the sugar, vinegar, garlic and thyme, and simmer over low heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Taste the sauce and season it with salt and pepper if needed.

When the onions are done, add them to the casserole, and pour the sauce over the onions and meat, stirring the mixture gently. The sauce should nearly coverthe meat; add more beer if needed. Bring the casserole to a boil on top of the stove, cover it tightly and place it in the lower third of the oven. Cook, regulating the oven heat so that the meat simmers slowly for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Before serving, let the carbonades cool for a few minutes. Then skim off the surface fat, discard the bouquet garni and taste the sauce for seasoning. Sprinkle the carbonades with the crisp pork bits and garnish with chopped parsley.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 October 2018 at 14:20
My Carbonnade journey continues!

This past weekend, I prepared another Carbonnade à la Flamande. This one was easily the best I've yet made, so I will share the story with you.

This is most likely the "final" recipe that I will post on the matter; from this point on, I would say that it is all about perfecting the method and technique. It is the result of much research; carefully poring over many posts, websites, email exchanges and social media messages. Most of all, it is thanks to the patient assistance of a good friend in Flanders, and I owe him a debt of gratitude that I cannot repay.

This recipe will easily feed 6 to 8 people; cut it in half for smaller households.

Quote Carbonnade à la Flamande

Ingredients

4 to 4.5-pound beef chuck roast
4 or 5 medium to large onions
Butter, for frying the onions
Sunflower or other neutral oil for frying the meat
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
2 or 3 tablespoons flour
2 bottles dark abbey ale (Westmalle, St. Bernardus 12, Kapittel Prior etc.)
2 beer bottles of water, veal stock or beef stock
*2 carrots, (optional, if desired), scraped and coarsely chopped
*2 tablespoons concentrated beef base (optional, if desired) such as Better Than Bouillon (or equivalent in cubes)
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme, or half as much dried thyme
3 or 4 Bay leaves
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar, as you prefer
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 or 3 slices of good bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard


Mise en Place

1. Trim fat to 1/4 inch and cut roast into chunks, approximately 2 inches x 3 inches.

2. Peel onions and cut in half lengthwise; bisect the halves and slice “across the grain,” approximately 3/8-inch thick.

3. Peel and crush the garlic; mince it, if you wish.

4. Prepare beef stock, if necessary.

5. Remove the crusts from the slices of bread and allow them to go a bit stale.

6. Assemble the remaining ingredients, measuring them out as necessary.


Preparation

Use a frying pan and a large cooking or stew pot; cast iron is recommended, but not absolutely necessary.

Put the cooking pot over low to medium-low heat, melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter and sweat the onions as long as you can, allowing them to cook their moisture out and get a little bit of colour. Do not let them scorch, or your Carbonnade will be bitter. When the onions cooked down almost as much as they can be, reduce the heat a little and continue to stir them now and then as you progress with the preparation.

Heat a thin layer of oil as hot as you dare, depending on your frying pan. Sear the chunks of meat in batches, taking care not to cover-crowd the pan; half-full is much better, otherwise, you will be boiling the meat in their own juices instead of searing it. You need to take your time for this; put the chunks in one by one and don't move them around all the time...don't shake the pan either, just leave them alone for a few minutes and then turn them. Sear all sides nicely.

Transfer the beef to the cooking pot on top of the onions; add some salt and pepper and the garlic. Sear the next batch of beef chunks until the all meat is done. You may have to add some oil to the frying pan as you progress, but do not remove the fond that is building up in the pan. Be careful with the amount of salt you add, as the Carbonnade will reduce during cooking.

Once all of the beef has been seared, sprinkle the flour over the meat that is now on top of the onions in the cooking pot. Put the fire a little higher, stir and let the flour cook just a little.

Put the frying pan back over the heat and pour a bottle of dark brown beer in it. Scrape the suc or fond from the bottom using a wooden spatula. Pour this mixture over the meat in the cooking pot. Add the second bottle of beer, then fill the bottle with water or stock and add to the pot; be sure to use the same amount of water or stock as you did beer. The meat should be only just covered with liquid.

Add one coarsely-cut carrot and concentrated beef base (if desired), your thyme, 3 or 4 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and the same amount of red or white wine vinegar. Spread a generous layer of Dijon-style mustard on the crustless slices of bread and place them in the cooking pot, mustard-side-down. The mustard gives the sour component, providing balance; you can add a few drops of vinegar at the end of the cooking time to correct the acidity, if necessary.

Place the cooking pot in the oven at 325 degrees for 90 minutes; alternately, you can continue to simmer the Carbonande on the stove top, stirring as necessary and taking care that nothing sticks to or scorches on the bottom of the pot. Toward the end of the cooking time, put the lid of the pot askew to let liquid evaporate. At the end of the 90 minutes, check the beef; if the meat isn't not tender enough or the sauce not thick enough, give it another 30 minutes.

When the beef has become completely tender and the sauce thick and dark, remove the pot from the oven. Correct the seasoning and acidity, if necessary, then serve with boiled or fried potatoes and the beer you used to make the stew.


I made the Carbonnade exactly as described above, except for the time and temperature in the oven, which I will explain below. Where a range of the amount of ingredients is listed (such as the beef, onions, flour etc.), I went with the higher amount. The resulting Carbonnade was very good, and seemed to be almost perfect; in fact, and was certainly my best preparation so far, but there was still a little room for improvement. Here are some notes based on the day.

Here are my beef, onions and garlic, all prepared and ready to go:



The lighting in my house seems to be a bit off; the fat of the beef and the onions should be white, rather than yellowish.

For the beef, I used a very good chuck roast from the very small herd of Angus/Hereford cross cattle that my parents own, cutting it into largish chunks. Chuck roast, as well as other "tough" (and once-upon-a-time cheap) cuts of beef are perfect for this meal, due to the tenderness and flavour achieved through the long, slow cooking process.

To begin, I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in my cast iron Dutch oven, then tossed the onions in to begin their long, slow cook. Throughout the process, I stirred them often as they released their liquid and cooked down, taking care not to let them scorch or burn. It wasn't long before the onions were really smelling good, filling the house with an incredible aroma that promised many good things.

Once the onions had cooked down and were starting to get some colour, I added my crushed garlic. I used three good-sized cloves, which turned out to be just right; any more would simply have been too much. Before long, the mild heat from the pot opened up the aroma of the garlic, which blended nicely with the onions; things were starting to get really good, here!

Moving along, I reduced the heat to the lowest setting, and heated some oil in my frying pan. Once it was quite hot, I began searing the chunks of beef:



You really do want to take your time with this step; sear the beef in small batches, and do not move the chunks while they are in the pan, except to turn and sear another side. Your patience will be rewarded, if you exercise self-discipline:



It seemed to me that searing for 5 minutes on the first side, then about 4 minutes on the remaining sides, produced good results.

By the time the first batch of beef was seared on all sides, here is what the onions looked like:



Once again: weird lighting! The onions weren't quite this "yellow," but they did have some very good colour on them. I added the beef to them, along with a little salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then continued with the next batch of beef chunks.

As you continue to sear the batches of beef, you may need to reduce the heat and adjust the times a little bit, in order to prevent scorching as your pan finds its groove. As I seared the beef and added it to the Dutch oven, I continued to grind some pepper over each batch, but only added a little salt every other batch, as the stew will reduce and become concentrated wile it cooks.

This process will take as long as it takes, and should not be rushed; after four full batches of beef, plus half of a fifth, I finished searing the beef, and it looked great! I stirred the beef an onions together:



Next, I added the flour to the beef and onions, then brought the heat up just a little as I stirred the flour into the mix. the object here is to let the flour cook just a bit, in order to lose its "raw" taste. It is similar to the idea of creating a roux, but you do not take it anywhere near as far as that.

Meanwhile, I turned my attention back to the frying pan and added a bottle of beer in order to deglaze the pan. Where the beer is concerned, you want a to choose one that is dark and rich, with relatively low hop bitterness and a bit of sweetness. The best to use is a Belgian trappist or abbey ale known as a dubbel, and there are many labels from which to choose. My friend in Europe had some very specific advice on this:

Quote When making carbonnades, you don’t use pale colored beer like tripel or any pilsner, wit (white) or whatever. The best choice to use would be a dark abbey beer or a dubbel, which is a very good option since it has less alcohol. These beers are have a distinct amount of sweet and bitter, which is why you never use only beer as the stew liquid in a carbonnade; you will end up with a bitter preparation if there’s no water or beef stock added! Many swear by using a red beer, such as Rodenbach. When I was younger, red beer was very acidic and more a high summer drink, preferably drunk with a few fresh shrimp on the side that you peeled on the fly. Since many years now they took out the biggest part of the acidity. Still, it’s one of Belgian favorites for making carbonnades, together with Oud Bruin (Old Brown).


Some examples of the beer you want to look for include:

Ename Dubbel
Kapittel Prior
Westmalle Dubbel
Sint-Bernardus Abt
Sint-Bernardus Prior
Kasteelbier Donker
Oud Bruin
Rodenbach (Red)
Petrus (Red)

Unfortunately, I had only one bottle of trappist dubbel in the house (Westmalle), and needed two; so earlier that day I had set my mind to finding a substitute. Given the parameters, the "next best thing" would probably be an English porter, but a search throughout my small, one-horse town didn't turn up any of that either. I did, however, find one beer that I figured would be perfect for this; even better, it is brewed in Montana!



Moose Drool is an American take on an English brown ale that is brewed at Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula. In spite of its dubious name, it is a very good beer that meets all of the criteria that I was looking for, with a very good colour, a touch of sweetness and with just enough hop bitterness to balance and compliment the other ingredients. The way things turned out, I couldn't have asked for a better substitute.

When the beer hit the hot frying pan, it released the brown bits from the bottom, known as the suc or fond. Using a wooden spatula, I scrapped all of this up and mixed it in with the beer, then poured everything from the frying pan into the Dutch oven. I added the second beer to the pot, then two bottles' worth of beef stock; as a rule of thumb, you want one bottle of beer and one bottle of stock (or water) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef, which will give you just the right amount of braising liquid. As my friend in Belgium told me, "In the older days, people added their beer, filled the beer bottle with water and added it to the stew; simple and easy, so I do that as well." In Belgium, the bottles are 33cl, which is a little less than the standard 12-ounce bottle of beer; however, since I had a little extra beef to braise, I figured that it would all even out.

I decided to forego the optional, coarsely-chopped carrot; however, I did add about 1.5 tablespoons of roasted beef base, from Better Than Bouillon. This step is not necessary, when using stock, but it can provide a little boost to the stock, if you desire. The concentrate is a bit more salty than I prefer; however, I like the deep, beefy foundation that it provides, so I took care to be very conservative with my added salt early on. As it turned out, I seem to have achieved a good balance, and was happy with the results.

After this, the rest is very easy; I added the fresh thyme, stripped from the sprigs, along with the bay leaves. Next, I added the brown sugar and the red wine vinegar:



Another rule of thumb: you want to use 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and the same amount of red or white wine vinegar per kilo of beef. I would have preferred to use white wine vinegar; however, this is a personal preference on my part, and either would certainly give you beautiful balance against the other flavours in the Carbonnade. The addition of vinegar and brown sugar might seem a little strange, but please do trust the recipe, as these ingredients are as essential to Carbonnade à la Flamande as the beef, the onions and the beer. From my friend in Flanders:

Quote Of particular importance is the acidity balance of carbonnade. When using abbey beer, you need to add some vinegar to your preparation to cut the sweetness of the beer. Start by adding a good tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar (whichever you prefer) per kilo of meat. Add it when you put the beer and water in, together with a generous spoon of dark brown soft sugar per kilo. At the end of the preparation, check the balance again and add a little more vinegar, if needed. When using a more acidic beer, taste first; you might not need to add so much but a little vinegar will bring your preparation to another level!


We're almost there! All that is left to do is to spread a liberal amount of Dijon-style mustard on the slices of bread:



My loaf of "French" bread was on the smallish side, so I sued a total of 5 slices of bread; If you use slices from a regular-sized loaf, 2 or 3 slices will most likely be enough.

Where the mustard is concerned, I went with a whole-grain "old style" variety from Maille that I really like; this mustard worked very well, but in the future I will probably use something that is more finely ground, as I personally found the seeds in the finished stew to be a distraction. I should stress, however, that this really was a good mustard to use, full of rich, rustic flavour, and it boils down to personal preference.

I placed the slices of bread, mustard-side-down, on top of the Carbonnade:



I then covered the Dutch oven and placed it into a preheated oven in order to begin its long, slow cook.

Regarding time and temperature, I set the oven at 300 degrees for 90 minutes, removing the lid after about 60 minutes; in retrospect, this was a little conservative on my part, as the stew was pretty thin at the end of the allotted time, and the beef wasn't quite fully tender. I brought the Dutch oven to the stove top and continued to simmer off some of the liquid; after half an hour of this, it had started to thicken up pretty well, but was still just a bit thin to my liking. It seemed to me that another half-hour of this would have been perfect, but by this time everyone was pretty impatient to eat, so I went with it. It tasted good; in fact, it tasted absolutely wonderful, but I personally would have preferred it just a bit thicker. With that in mind, I have set the time and temperature of the recipe to that shown above, and will continue to refine this as necessary until it is "dialed in" to perfection.

Another option is to simmer the Carbonnade on the stovetop, rather than in the oven; this could allow you to have better control, adjusting the lid to reduce the sauce, as necessary. Unfortunately, most times I try to cook stews and other similar dishes this way, I end up running the risk of scorching the bottom of the pan (and the meal), even on the lowest temperature. Having said that, I will try it in the future, and be sure to monitor the progress of the cooking carefully, in order to hopefully prevent that from happening.

If, in spite of all efforts, your sauce comes out really thin, you can scoop all of the meat out of the pot and reduce the sauce over high heat to your desired thickness, taking care to stir often and not allow it to scorch.

The notes above underscore an axiom where Carbonnade is concerned: having a well-reduced sauce makes a big difference in the taste. Carbonnade à la Flamande is all about concentrated flavors and balance; nearly every step of the preparation of this dish is focused on that end.

In any case, the Carbonnade was very close to ideal, but could have been a bit better where the thickness and consistency were concerned; something to remember for next time. The funny thing is that, when I served the meal to my famished family alongside simple boiled potatoes, there was not a single complaint about the thickness. Even with this small flaw, the flavours of the Carbonnade were exemplary, and everyone - including a couple of finicky souls - enjoyed it very much. In my own judgment, as mentioned above, this was easily the best Carbonnade that I have made to date, with better flavour, better balance and better highlighting of "the star of the dish" than I have ever achieved.

I am, of course, referring to the beef, and one simple alteration made a lot of difference. When I was reading through the advice from my friend in Flanders, I noticed that he added a little salt and pepper after the meat was seared, rather than before this step. In the past, I had always added the salt and pepper before, but this time I waited until removing it from the frying pan. The results were unique and delightful, in that the beef seemed to me much more highlighted and on its own, while the salt and pepper seasoned the sauce itself. This of course was helped along by the fact that I was using very nice beef, which the seasoning technique allowed to shine.

My goal on this day was to prepare a "quintessential" Carbonnade à la Flamande, where ingredients, technique and taste are concerned, and I came very close. As a result, I fell in love with this Flemish stew all over again, and vowed that it wouldn't be long before my next preparation, especially as autumn moves into winter early here in Montana. I am, however, always looking for room for improvement, so I came up with a few items to keep in mind, next time:

The Moose Drool worked out much better than I imagined it would, but next time I will use a proper abbey ale.

I will employ ground Dijon mustard, rather than whole-seed.

I will use white wine vinegar, in order to compare it to using red wine vinegar.

I will manage the cooking time and temperature better, with an eye toward a thicker, more concentrated sauce.

The boiled potatoes were very nice, and certainly traditional; but I would really like to try traditional Belgian Patates Frites next time:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/patates-frites_topic4916.html

That's all I have for now, everyone. If you have prepared this before, using the recipes listed above, I'd suggest that you try it as written here, in order to get a good sense of the difference; I truly believe that this preparation was as close as one can get without actually being in a Flemish kitchen. If you've never tried Carbonnade before, then this is a great place to start!

As always, questions, comments, thoughts and feedback are most welcome - if anyone else tries this, I'd really like to know how you like it!

Ron
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