There are certain things that are made to be eaten on rainy Sunday afternoons. Sunday afternoons that are spent inside playing cards, maybe venturing out for some fresh air and a walk but mostly enjoying endless cups of tea and perhaps a film. Blankets are pretty much compulsory and slaving over the oven all day is out. This is my answer to anyone who hasn't got the time to make a roast, but wants that wonderful, comforting Sunday evening meal. Remember when I told you about that amazing beef and beer stew that I tried in Brussels? Well last Sunday I created my own version and found that it was the best thing in just about ever. Your oven will do all the hard work for you whilst you get on with the more important things in life (read: Disney. Beauty and the Beast, anyone?).
J and I curled up on Sunday evening with big bowls of this incredible Carbonnade a la Flamande with crunchy parsnip chips. If we were trying to be traditionally Belgian, we would've gone with classic, crispy chips and mayonnaise. But parsnip chips are crazy good - do I even have to sell them to you? It was delicious, warming and comforting. The flavours this stew throws out are surprisingly rich. Good quality, simple ingredients come together to produce an altogether incredible experience. This wonderful stew would also be great with pasta and in a pie too. We'd planned to have some with pasta the following day, but it was that good, J finished it off later that same Sunday night. Can you tell I'm a fan?
I'm also very excited to share this recipe with you as it is my first blog adventure with my little Le Creuset. I'm already so head over heels in love with it, I want to use it every day! Do you guys have any good one-pot recipes that I could try with it?
For Carbonnade a la Flamande you will need (serves 3-4):
knob of butter
3 rashers smoked bacon
400g stewing steak
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp allspice
2 tbsp flour
225ml beef stock
400ml brown Leffe beer (or another dark beer)
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
heaped tbsp soft dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
Begin by preheating your oven to 150c.
Now melt your butter in a heavy bottomed casserole dish over a medium heat and slice up your bacon. Fry the bacon until it has crisped up a little, this should take about 10 minutes.
Chop both your onions and add to the pan. Cook for a further 10 minutes until softened.
Add in the thyme and allspice and stir through.
BEEF! Dice it up and chuck it in.
Brown the meat and then add in the flour and stir through.
Now add the mustard and sugar to the beef stock.
Top up with Leffe beer. If you have any left over, serve it with the meal. It's incredibly drinkable!
Pour the liquid into the pot, add the bay leaves and bring to the boil.
Season generously and then secure the lid firmly over the pot and then put into the oven. Cook gently for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and the liquid has reduced a little.
This tastes even better if you can leave it for a few hours, or even a day if you can manage it. If you have the willpower to leave it alone, make sure to warm it up on the hob or in the oven until piping hot before serving.
Enjoy whilst looking out a rainy window.
Deliciously rich and absurdly easy to make, this is a keeper.