5 for $20 Challenge: Carbonnade

The first protein we chose to use in the 5 for $20 Challenge was the package of two beef chuck tenderloin steaks. These weighed in at about 13 ounces, so our attempt at this recipe was a bit light on meat. Despite that, the finished product was absolutely amazing. Note that the beer I used for this carbonnade was an 11.2 oz bottle of Trappistes Rochefort 8, an imported Belgian Tripel, which worked perfectly in this recipe.  I tried using Chimay Blue the second time I made this carbonnade, and was disappointed — the Chimay was considerably hoppier and its bitterness overwhelmed the other flavors in the dish.  (Stick with the Trappistes Rochefort.)

Beef Carbonnade

Carbonnade (Beef Braised in Dark Belgian Beer)
Recipe from culinspiration

-1 lb. stewing beef, such as chuck roast (avoid pre-packaged stew meat, which tends to be gristly)
-1 Tbsp. flour
-1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and halved (about 5 med.)
-2 small onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
-1 Tbsp. butter
-olive oil, as needed
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 c. vegetable or beef broth
-1/2 pint (300ml) dark Belgian beer, such as Chimay Blue
-1 Tbsp. brown sugar
-3 bay leaves
-leaves of 4 fresh thyme sprigs
-handful of parsley, chopped
-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-2 gingersnap cookies plus 1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, or one piece Lebkuchen (German gingerbread)
-1 tsp. Dijon or spicy mustard
-salt and pepper, to taste

1. Trim and slice the beef into 1-in. cubes. Pat dry with paper towels (to ensure your meat browns, not steams). Sprinkle with the flour, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat.

2. Heat half the butter and a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a deep, thick bottomed pot on medium-high until bubbly.

3. Add half the meat to the pot and allow one side to brown thoroughly.  Do not stir for several minutes until a dark crust forms.  Turn with tongs and brown the remaining sides.  Remove the seared meat to a bowl, leaving the oil behind.

4.  Add more olive oil (if needed) and the remaining beef to the pot. Brown and remove to the bowl.

5.  Add the remaining butter to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the shallots and onions.  Stir and shake regularly until softened, browned, and caramelized all over.  Take care not to burn.

6.  Deglaze the pan with a little warm broth, stirring up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.  Add the herbs, reserved beef, beer, and minced garlic.

7.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar and stir well.  Smear the Lebkuchen or gingersnaps with mustard and place on top of the stew (these dissolve and thicken the stew). Stir in cocoa, if using.

8. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pot with a piece of foil, then top with the lid.

9. Simmer for 2-2 1/2 hrs., stirring occasionally. Uncover for the last half hour of cook time.

Serve with buttered, parsleyed spaetzle or egg noodles and lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce.