Beef · European (Western and Eastern) Cuisine · Soups & Salads

Carbonnade: Beef, Beer, and Onion Stew

It’s officially Fall and all recipes related to stew, pumpkin, apple, or mulling spices fascinate me like how a baby is fascinated with those baby toys that hang over a baby’s cradle. I tried to google what those toys are called  in an attempt to sound educated (or would that be, maternal?) but I failed, miserably.

Well thankfully this isn’t a blog about babies! Back to food.

Stews are my ultimate comfort food. I love the one-pot-wonder-dump-all-ingredients-forget-for a few hours mentality that stew has. No fussiness involved and particularly enjoyable during those rainy and cold days.

Here’s another favorite of mine that contains a Belgian Ale, Chimay. You can get it at any Trader Joes for a decent price. This is a bold stew with some serious beef and onion flavor. If you’re a fan of French onion soup, this stew will satisfy and more.

Note: the key to developing a beefy flavor is by cooking the beef in batches. Do not over crowd the pan!


  • 3 1/2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 medium yellow onions sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) Belgian beer (Chimay, Ommegang Abbey Ale, or use Newcastle Brown Ale if the other two aren’t available)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar


1 Pat beef dry with paper towels, then season well with salt and pepper (this helps promote browning and a beefier flavor in the stew. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot oven over medium-high heat until hot, almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the meat, without stirring, about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer browned beef to a separate bowl.

2 Add 2 tablespoons butter to pot; reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook until onions are browned, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay, browned beef with any of the accumulated juices, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, let cook for 2-3 hours until beef is fork tender. (Alternatively can cook in the oven at 300°F.) Stir occasionally, scraping up anything that is sticking to the bottom of the pan. About half an hour before it finishes cooking, add the mustard and brown sugar. Adjust seasonings to taste.

3 Discard thyme and bay leaf. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Can serve plain, with potatoes, over noodles, or over French fries.

Serves 6.



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