This slow-braised stew finds inspiration from a Flemish Beef Carbonnade I made for a small dinner a couple of months ago. There are some classical French components which give a certain air of sophistication to something as humble as a beef stew but with much more flavour.
When you serve this dish, biscuits are a superb pairing, or do as the Flemish do and scoop the stew over a pile of French fries!
2.5 lbs chuck beef flats cut into 2 inch (4 cm) cubes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 cup of your favourite craft cider, I am using Red Island Cider Father Walker
4 tbsp butter
8 slices bacon, finely chopped (I like to pop it into the freezer for 30 minutes to make chopping easier)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups no salt added beef stock (if you have the homemade stuff this is the place to use it)
2 tbsp brown sugar packed
2 tsp thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
Chopped parsley for garnish
- Toss the beef with the salt, pepper, and flour.
- Brown the meat in a single layer over high heat with 2 tbsp of the butter.
- Remove the beef, and reserve to be added back into the pot.
- Next, add the bacon to the pot; lower the heat to medium high.
- Once the bacon begins to become a bit crispy, add in the onions, butter, and the thyme; lower the heat to medium.
- Slowly caramelize the onions so that they become very soft and sweet, but not crispy; this will take about 35 minutes.
- After 30 minutes have elapsed, stir through the chopped garlic.
- To continue, deglaze the pan with the cider and return the heat to medium-high; reduce the liquid’s volume by a quarter.
- Return the beef to the pot along with the beef stock and bay leaves.
- Simmer the stew at a low heat for 2-3 hours.
- Check the seasoning; add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Add a splash of vinegar if desired.
Chef ILona Daniel is Harrowsmith’s Food Editor and the founder of Tribe Fresh Events and Consulting, a purpose-driven insights consultancy accelerated by modern approaches to the hospitality industry, immersive experiences, and community and culture development. She has worked on projects around the world and is on the Board of Directors for the Tourism Association of PEI. Chef Ilona is a media personality, and a Culinary Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Canada.