If you find yourself lacking motivation to stand by the stove and participate in much active cooking at this time of the year, you are certainly not alone. With the diminished daylight hours and the time, we get to spend in it, can lead to a seasonal malaise which requires some gentleness and ease. This recipe 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 gives a certain air of sophistication to something as humble as a beef stew.
When you are serving this dish, biscuits are a superb pairing or do as the Flemish do and scoop the stew over a pile of French fries!
Craft-Cider Spiked Beef & Bacon Stew
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 ¼ .
- 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 the founder of Tribe Fresh Events and Consulting, a purpose-driven insights consultancy accelerated by modern approaches to the hospitality industry, immersive experiences, community and culture development, and game-changing deliverables.
With 15 years of experience, she is a thought leader and an established business-builder with projects spanning the globe including Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. Her strong background in consumer products and services includes a specialized focus on the interconnected producer and consumer in the food service sector. Ilona is also on the Board of Directors for the Tourism Association of PEI & The PEI Writers Guild. Chef Ilona is a published writer for numerous publications, is a media personality, and a dedicated Culinary Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Canada. The episode, “PEI Lobster” of the series, “Untamed Gourmet”, which Chef Ilona hosted was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.