carbonnade a la flamande (belgian beef, beer, and onion stew)

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category: [meat]

Top blade steaks (a.k.a. blade steaks, flatiron steaks) are first choice, but any boneless chuck roast will work. If using a chuck roast, look for boneless chuck eye roast, which is easily trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces. Buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes are good accompaniments to carbonnade. Traditional copper-colored Belgian ale works best, but you can substitute another dark or amber-colored ale.

Serves 6

3.5 lbs blade steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed of gristle and fat, cut
    into 1-inch pieces
  3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  2 lbs yellow onions (about 3 medium), halved & sliced 1/4" thick
  1 Tbsp tomato paste
  2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
  3 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1.5 cups beer
  4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, tied with kitchen twine
  2 bay leaves
  1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Heat oven to 300F. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season with pepper (maybe a little salt, but it's easy to add more later). Heat 2 tsp oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add about 1/3 of beef to pot. Cook without moving pieces until well browned, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, turn each piece and continue cooking until second side is well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned beef to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 2 tsp of oil and half of remaining beef. (If drippings in bottom of pot are very dark, add about 1/2 cup of above-listed chicken or beef broth and scrape pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; pour liquid into bowl with browned beef, then proceed.) Repeat once more wiht 2 tsp oil and remaining beef.

Add repaining 1 Tbsp oil to now-empty Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions, 1/2 tsp salt (maybe skip?), and tomato paste. Cook, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until onions have released some moisture, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are lightly browned, 12-14 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broths, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Stir in beer, thyme, bay, vinegar, browned beef with any accumulated juices, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium high and bring to full simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover partially, then place pot in oven. Cook until fork inserted into beef meets little resistance, about 2 hours.

Discard thyme and bay. Adjust seasons with salt and pepper to taste and serve. (Can be cooled and refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat over medium-low heat.)

source: Jeanie Fisk