Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Belgian Beef Stew

With winter approaching there is nothing I like better than using the slow cooker. Especially as it can be all organised in the morning, switched on and left to it's own devices until I walk back through the front door. My favourite thing is opening the front door to the delish smells coming from the kitchen.... not only does the smell make you hungry but there is a sense of relief that tonight there will be no rush or panic to get dinner on the table quickly.

This year we have made it a mission to try some different dishes than the handful of dishes we have cooked in the past. So armed with a new slow cooker recipe book we sat down and chose a recipe to try. Belgian Beef Stew was the lucky winner!!

"Carbonnade" is the traditional name of this traditional Belgian dish. The name "Carbonnade" comes from the Lation root for "carbon". The word reflects that the stew was originally cooked very slowly in a cast-iron pot over the charcoals of an open fire or hearth. No doubt it refers to the caramelized onions and the dark beer that gives the finished dish a rich colour and deep flavour.

I have to tell you that this stew was just that - deep in flavour, in fact a unique taste that pleased everyone who partook in dinner last night, including my girlfriend Sharon and her son Tom. Tom had two serves which just amazed us as Tom has to be the fussiest eater I have ever come across - this kid doesn't even eat bread!
We served the Belgian Beef Stew with a serve of creamy mashed potato. I think that it would be just as nice with plain pasta and next time I will definately have some fresh crusty bread on hand to mop up the juices.

Belgian Beef Stew
(recipe adapted from Essentials of Slow Cooking)

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 6.5

4 tablespoons low fat butter
4 slices bacon, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 kilogram chuck steak, fat removed and largely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (500 ml) dark beer
4 - 5 carrots, largely diced
200 grams whole button mushrooms

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the bacon and cook, turning frequently for about 5 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Add the onions, sprinkle in the sugar and saute until the onions turn a deep caramel brown colour, about 35 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker bowl.

In a large snap lock bag stir togheter the flour, salt and pepper. Add the diced beef, seal tightly and shake in the seasoned flour until completely covered, discarding any excess flour. In the frying pan over a medium heat, melt the remaining butter with the olive oil. Add diced beef, in batches if required, and cook for 10 minutes or until browned on all sides turning occasionally. Add to the onion mixture in the slow cooker. Add the carrots and mushrooms into the slow cooker also.

Pour in the beer and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil. Pour the beer mixture onto the onion and beef mixture. Cover and cook until the meat is very tender, 3 hours on the high heat setting or 6 hours on the low heat setting.


Lara said...

I'm jealous of anyone who can make soups now, it's just getting too darn hot here to make them. I always feel like I have a big hole in my menu in the summertime!

Donna-FFW said...

I make dishes like this year round, if I didnt Id miss them too muhc. This looks fantastic, and I love the addition of the dark beer.

Reeni♥ said...

I love this stew with the creamy mashed potatoes! And what great flavors to it - mmm, beer!