Classic Carbonade

In Recipes on July 4, 2011 at 3:53 am

There was frost on the grass when I went for my walk this morning and the days have shortened.  People are going to work while it still dark and returning home in the dark seeing only the faux daylight of the office or the flourescent lit train in between.  It is definitely the time of year for good, comforting food that will warm a person from the inside out.  In my little pot garden only the hardiest of winter herbs are still producing.  There are some small leeks and an abundance of fresh thyme.  The leeks will be good sauteed in some olive oil and butter as a side dish and the thyme makes me think of long, slow cooked braises and stews.  Flicking through my old recipe books I am drowning in a wine dark sea of casseroles but my choice is made when I look in the fridge and see a couple of Cooper’s Sparkling Ales.  I will make one of the first dishes I ever cooked, a Carbonade de Boeuf.

Carbonade de Boeuf is a delicious casserole of beef, onions and beer.  These, along with a few other ingredients, are cooked long and slow until the beef is falling apart and the onions have almost melded into the sauce.  Then it is topped with slices of good bread, spread thickly with Dijon mustard.  The result is a delicious rich stew with a beautiful unctuous consistency, under a crust of crunchy, slightly piquant bread.  It is good served with a roasted garlic mash.

Carbonade de Boeuf

Carbonade de Boeuf  


1kg blade or chuck steak

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs butter

3 large onions (halved lengthways and finely sliced)

2 tbs flour

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 tbs tomato paste (optional)

bouquet garni (thyme, parsley and a bay leaf)

salt, pepper and a good grate of nutmeg

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs cider vinegar

350ml brown ale (I have found that Cooper’s Red produces a good result)

3 slices of good bread (rye or sourdough) spread thickly on one side with Dijon mustard

2 cups chicken stock or water


Cube the beef and toss it in the flour.  Heat half the oil in a heavy based saucepan or casserole.  Brown the meat and remove to a plate.  Add the rest of the oil and the butter and saute the onions until they are translucent.  Add the garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper, cook for 1 min.  Add the tomato paste and cook for a further min.  Add the vinegar, sugar, bouquet garni and beer.  Cook for a 2 mins.  Return the meat to the pot and add the chicken stock or water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 11/2 hours with the lid on ( if cooking in the oven the same amount of time at 180c) or until the meat is really tender.  Top the stew with the bread, mustard side up.  Dunk the bread gently under the gravy and bake, uncovered, in a 180c oven for a further 1/2 hour or until the bread is crisp and lightly brown.


I thought wholegrain mustard would look better for the photo so I used it this time.  It is not as good, it doesn’t have the piquancy that the Dijon mustard does.

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