Flemish Karbonaden Stew
But first let me tell you something about the meat that I use for the recipe below here. Karbonaden actually is the Flemish name for a specific shoulder and back cut of pork. You might have heard about the synonym ‘stoofvlees’ as well, which looks very similar to karbonaden. But because stoofvlees (literally means ‘braised meat’) is mainly made with beef chuck, the stew can be a tad darker in color than the pork karbonaden version. But then these 2 names are quite often used interchangeably. Anyway, the recipes are more or less the same – only the meat can be different. Can be, because in France for instance ‘carbonade’ stew is made with beef.
Here’s my Flemish version. So main ingredients here: meat and beer! And Belgian pear molasses from a Belgian city called Liege. This sweet and tacky stuff is very popular down there because it is so addictive. As a kid I would spread it on sandwiches or on warm crepes and pancakes.You can use any kind of pear or fruit molasses here. Or just stick to the brown sugar then, that works out well too. Serve the karbonaden with a gorgeous portion of golden Belgian fries, mayo and a crunchy green salad!
This karbonaden stew has to simmer and stew for quite a long time to get tender. And because of that then, you can also prepare it in a crockpot or pressure cooker of course!
Flemish karbonaden: a strong beer stew with beer!
- 3 lbs pork or beef chuck (1350 g)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cups Belgian dark ale (720 ml)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cups beef stock (480 ml), warm
- 1 tbsp strong mustard
- 1 tbsp pear molasses optional
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 clove
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Add the butter, bay leaves, fresh thyme and clove to a large pan.
- Place the pan over medium heat until the butter has melted. Then fry the herbs and spices for 3 minutes until fragrant. In the meantime dice the meat up into large pieces. Don’t make them too small because they will shrink while stewing. Add the meat to the hot pan.
- Stir and then brown the meat on all sides for 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion to the browned meat. Also add the strong mustard. Season generously with pepper and salt.
- Stir the meat and onions well. Cook for 4 minutes. Then add the brown sugar. Pour in the dark ale and half of the warm beef stock.
- Bring all the ingredients to a rolling boil. Then cover the pan and turn the heat low. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook it for 3 hours. Stir regularly. Add extra water, ale or beef stock if necessary. The meat should be very tender and the beer should almost have disappeared.
- Turn the heat off and let the stew cool down for an hour. Then pour in the rest of the beef stock and add the pear molasses (optional).
- Place the pan back over medium heat and simmer the stew uncovered for another hour until you end up with a nice sauce. Then check the seasoning and add extra pepper, salt, brown sugar or mustard to taste. Scoop the karbonaden stew onto deep plates and serve hot with fries.