The title of this recipe is the fancy way of saying I made "Beef and Onions Braised in Beer". I like the French version much better, don't you? Although, I didn't use beef, I used a venison roast. We have a lot of venison in our house, and this piece had been meant for the stew pot last week, but the stew pot got full and this did not fit in. So, as it was thawed, I needed to cook it, and this recipe sounded perfect for a wintry day. It is from the legendary Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One.
I got the two volume set for Christmas, and already I've been inspired just by reading through the first volume. Do you ever do that? Just read a cookbook as if it were a regular book? It can give you all kinds of inspiration, ideas, and how-tos. I have been having a lot of those a-ha! moments with this book, as I always have wondered how to make the fancy sauces that all the chefs seem to know.
I will do my best to set down this recipe as Julia did. Right down to the necessary pots and pans.
Carbonnades a la Flamande
3-lb piece of lean beef (chuck or rump roast) *I used the venison roast.
2-3 T rendered fresh pork fat or good cooking oil
A heavy skillet
Preheat oven to 325deg. Cut the beef into slices about 2x4" across and 1/2" thick. Dry on paper towels. Put a 1/16" layer of fat or oil in the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Brown the beef slices quickly, a few at a time, and set them aside.
1.5 lb or 6 c sliced onions *I know this seems like A LOT of onions, but trust me, it works out.
salt and pepper
4 cloves mashed garlic
Reduce heat to moderate. Stir in onions into the fat in the skillet, adding more fat if necessary, and brown the onions lightly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Our onions did not really fit into our skillet, but rather mounded up high. Have faith though, they will reduce in the 10 min and eventually fit into the skillet as promised.) Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in garlic.
9-10" fireproof casserole about 3.5" deep
salt and pepper
Arrange half the browned beef in the casserole and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread half the onions over the beef. Repeat with the rest of the beef and onions.
1 c strong beef stock or canned beef bouillon (I used canned stock)
2-3 c light beer, Pilsner type (I used just short of 2 bottles of a lightish beer called Farm Girl that no one wanted to drink.)
2T light brown sugar
1 large herb bouquet: 6 parsley springs, 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 t thyme, tied in cheese cloth (I used 6T of dried Penzey's parsley, 1/2t Penzey's dried thyme, and the bay leaf)
Heat the stock/bouillon in the browning skillet, scraping up coagulated cooking juices. Pour it over the meat. Add enough beer so the meat is barely covered. Stir in the brown sugar. Bury the herb bouquet among the meat slices. (I just mixed in my dried herbs with the liquid.) Bring casserole to the simmer on top of the stove. Then cover and place in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate temperature so liquid remains at a very slow simmer for 2.5 hours, at the end of which the meat should be fork tender.
1.5 T arrowroot or cornstarch
2 T wine vinegar (I used red wine version)
Remove herb bouquet. Drain cooking liquid out of casserole and into a saucepan, and skim off fat. Beat the starch and vinegar mixture into the liquid and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Carefully correct seasoning. You shoul dahve about 2 c of sauce. (I had more like 5 c of sauce, and so did the thickening step again to get it to a sauce consistency.) Pour the sauce back over the meat. *Can be prepared in advance to this point.
Parsley potatoes or buttered noodles
When ready to serve, cover casserole and simmer slowly for 4-5 minutes until meat is thoroughly heated through. Either bring the casserole to the table, or arrange the meat on a hot serving platter, spoon the sauce over it, surround with potatoes or noodles and decorate with parsley.
I would definitely make this recipe again. It had amazing flavors. The venison was fork tender, which can be a challenge for such a lean meat. The onions were sweet after such a long cook time, and the beer didn't really have a distinct flavor. We used Farfalle pasta shapes and served it over buttered noodles. My mom and I made this for a family get together of 7 people, and we had leftovers - it is supposed to feed 6. Everyone agreed that it was an excellent dish. The one challenge with this recipe was that it took 2 of us an hour to get the prep done before the dish went into the oven. Tasty, but time consuming to make.