Beef Carbonnade Flamande

beef carbonnade

We have the very first gathering of our cookbook club tonight – a real-life club in which we collectively choose a cookbook to cook out of, or a theme to stick to, and everyone makes something and brings it and we eat and laugh and cheers our good fortune that we all get to enjoy each others’ company on an otherwise regular Tuesday night.

Our first theme is family recipes, to celebrate our diverse pasts and presents, to recall where our parents and grandparents were born and raised and what they ate and how they got to be here, and how our families’ daily meals have evolved or stayed the same. (In fact, we started compiling our collective recipes into small eBooks, to raise funds for the UN Refugee Agency.)

Beef Carbonnade

I made my grandma’s Belgian beef carbonnade – a Belgian stew in which not-so-tender cuts of beef are braised slowly in stock and beer, creating an intensely flavorful sauce – and the only recipe I remember this particular grandma making. It’s very beefy, devoid of veggies save for onions and garlic, and is traditionally served over buttered egg noodles, although mashed potatoes are delicious too – you just need something to catch all that gravy. Her recipe is written over three (four?) pages in fancy longhand, but it’s really not that complicated – totally worth spending ten minutes browning meat at the stove. After that, the oven does the work.

(This would be divine with a slab of brisket too – just sayin’.)

beef carbonnade
beef carbonnade

Beef Carbonnade Flamande

Recipe link


September 29, 2015

  • Makes: Serves 6-10.


canola or olive oil, for cooking

3-4 slices bacon, chopped

2-3 lb. (1.25 kg) stewing beef, chuck or blade, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped or thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup (ish) beef stock

1 can or bottle heavy ale or dark stout (I used Big Rock Scottish Heavy Ale)

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

egg noodles or mashed potatoes, for serving

butter, for serving


1Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2Set a wide pot or braising dish over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and cook the bacon until crisp; transfer to a shallow bowl, leaving the drippings.

3Brown the beef in the drippings on all sides, working in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper in the pan and setting it aside on a plate as it gets browned and crusty on the edges. Add the onion to the pot and cook until golden; add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

4Add the beef stock to the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Return the beef to the pot, pour over the beer, stir in the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and add the sprigs of thyme. Cover and cook for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Remove the lid, and if the gravy is too thin, set the pan on the stovetop and simmer uncovered until it thickens.

Makes: Serves 6-10.

About Julie

5 comments on “Beef Carbonnade Flamande

  1. Laurie from Richmond
    September 29, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve stolen this and added it to my recipes. It’s the way I remember making beef stew.
    Thank you so much, Julie
    I’ll add some veges to it, but this is a killer stew

  2. Crystal
    September 30, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    It was an absolute privilege to be among such friendly and talents chefs! Thanks so much for helping to create this fun collaboration, I’m really looking forward to what’s to come! Also, this Beef Carbonnade was melt-in-your-mouth-deliciousness!


  3. June
    October 22, 2015 at 9:07 am

    We love the stuff. Served with mashed potatoes AND biscuits…guaranteed to make my Big Guy groan.

  4. Ashley
    September 2, 2016 at 11:31 am

    What happens to the bacon? Do you not use it, just the drippings?

  5. Elizabeth
    October 18, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    How could I adapt this recipe for a crowd, 30 I was looking for something to make in a slow cooker to free up my oven but this might work.

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