Is there anything better than beer-braised meat?
Today we have Carbonade Flamande, aka Flemish Stew. “Flemish” is a kind of old-school Belgian-Dutch-French thing. While there is no country of Flanders, there are cultural influences sticking around. It’s mostly the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, and of course, food is a big identifier of the area.
This is possibly one of THE classic Flemish dishes: stew made with an Old Bruin beer. Not only does the ale give the stew a sweet and sour flavor, it also makes it nice and thick, dark and hearty. The nice thing is that between the beer and the bacon, you don’t need a whole lot of other spices.
I added mushrooms. This is optional. If you don’t like mushrooms then just don’t worry about it. The most annoying part was making sure I tracked down the right beer. Belgian beer can get a bit pricey. You also tend to find it at more specialty and craft beer places. A good inexpensive, American alternative (which I used) is New Belgium’s Abbey ale. And no, they didn’t pay me nor give me free beer to say that. (But I would take it if they felt so inclined after the fact!) If you can’t find that, anything strong and brown and should be okay.
Carbonade Flamande is often served with those delicious Belgian fries everybody raves about. While awesome, I do not do french fries at home. I opted for sweet potatoes, but you could really go with any starch from rice to mashed potatoes to even egg noodles if you wanted to. Even a crusty bread bowl would work. The main thing is to make sure you have something to soak up that delicious, delicious gravy. While you could throw this together relatively quickly if you use beef, with venison you want to stew it a long, long time. At least an hour, or until the meat is so tender it nearly falls apart.
Flemish Stew (Carbonade Flamande)
- 3.5-4lb cubed venison
- 1-2 tablespoon oil
- 8 slices (smoked bacon)
- 2 Large onions (sliced)
- 1 pint mushrooms (sliced)
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dried time
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 bottles dark belgian beer (I used New Belgium Abbey Ale)
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
|Heat a large dutch oven or stew pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat renders out. Add the onions with a little salt, cover, and cook until caramelized, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn, about 10-15 minutes.|
|Meanwhile, on another burner heat a skillet with the oil in it over medium-high heat. Sear the meat in batches, wiping out any bits that burn in between and adding a little more oil if necessary. Set seared meat aside.|
|Once the onions are caramelized, add the mushrooms to the pot and cook until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Then add the meat and flour and stir until everything is well coated and the flour browns just a little bit. Then add the mustard, thyme, bay leaf and beer. Top off with water if you need more liquid to make sure the meat is completely covered.|
|Stew for at least an hour, or until the meat is very tender. Serve with steamed rice, boiled potatoes, or mashed potatoes.|
Non-game substitution: Beef!