Beef Stew – Belgian Style
Snow in Rome, frozen canals in Holland, and just a general-OMG it’s SO cold in Belgium feeling. . . winter seems to have a tight hold on us in Europe. How in the world can you cope with the coldness of winter? With beef. And beer. How about beef and beer, slow-cooked in the oven for hours? Yes. That’s the ticket. Eat it by the fireside for an extra special winter treat. In March.
I’ve taken the traditional pot roast and stew recipes from the U.S. and combined them with my Belgian favorite – stoofvlees – to create this one. I like tucking vegetables into my stews (my kids barely notice). I use the stoofvlees highlights of Belgian beer and gingerbread. Serve this over mashed potatoes or my Garden Noodles. With Belgian beer, natuurlijk (of course).
Note: After posting originally, I caught hell from my Belgian friends. 🙂 Stoofvlees is to be served with fries. Not noodles. Or mashed potatoes. My apologies. If you’re gonna drink beer and eat beef, go for the fried stuff too. It’s like chicken fried steak without gravy. I get it. Let’s do it right, y’all.
1 package of stew or stoofvlees meat (800 grams or 1 and ½ pounds)
1 cup (125 grams) flour
Season salt & pepper of your choice (I use my Rudy’s rub from Texas)
3-4 Tablespoons of butter or olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped (again, the Huspot package from Albert Heijn makes quick work of this)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 bottle of dark beer (Leffe or Westmalle works nicely)
2 bay leaves
1 slice of gingerbread
Splash of beef broth, if necessary
Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
Place chunks of beef in a bowl and sprinkle with season salt and pepper (or your favorite steak seasoning). Coat pieces of seasoned beef with flour.
Fry cubed meat in butter or olive oil in a large Dutch oven for 10 minutes. There needs to be room around the pieces, so this may need to be done in batches. Once the beef is browned on all sides, remove from the pan. Add onions and carrots and sauté until tender. Add the bottle of beer to the pot and scrape off any browned bits. Add meat to the pot. If the beer does not cover all the meat, add a little beef broth to the pan and stir. Season with dried thyme, bay leaves, and add the piece of gingerbread. (Some Belgians add a piece of bread with mustard to the pot, but the Texan in me likes the spiciness of the gingerbread better than the tartness of the mustard. But feel free to experiment).
Cover and place pan inside the oven and cook for a couple of hours until meat is tender. You can get creative with the final touches – Belgians often add a bit of jelly or honey (or even chocolate!?) to their stoofvlees once it has finished cooking to offset the spiciness of the dish. Stir well and serve!