Flemish karbonaden stew: this is a strong pork or beef stew with beer and pear molasses… Serve this stew with a generous portion of golden Belgian fries of course!
Now here is another recipe from my culinary heimat!
Flemish karbonaden stew or in other words a classic Belgian meat stew with beer.
And because of these main ingredients you can also imagine that it is a very popular dish where I come from. What I love about this recipe is how many versions you can find. It is such a simple stew to make so lots of people make it at home and therefore also have their own special recipe for it.
Mine is delicious, but then the Flemish karbonaden stew of my brother looks absolutely the same but taste a little different.
Flemish Karbonaden Stew
I like how people add their own twist to this classic beef stew!
So where does that difference mainly come from? Well I guess that it is because some use a secret ingredient, or add something that doesn’t traditionally go into this Flemish karbonaden stew but is a creative touch!
But first let me tell you something about the meat that I use for the recipe below here.
Pork or Beef
Karbonaden actually is the Flemish name for a specific shoulder and back cut of pork. You might also have heard of its synonym ‘stoofvlees’ as well, which looks very similar to a karbonaden stew.
However because we mainly prepare stoofvlees (which literally means ‘braised meat’) with beef chuck, that stew can be a tad darker in color than the pork karbonaden stew 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 also prepared with beef. Carbonade flamande or carbonnade flamande, the spelling is a little different in French sometimes. And flamande means from Flanders, in this case Flemish kabonaden stew.
Here’s my Flemish version.
So like I mentioned before: the main ingredients here are meat and beer!
And a special ingredient which makes this stew rich and a tad sweet and sour as well.
I am talking about Belgian pear molasses from a Belgian city by the name of Liege. We call it ‘echte Luikse siroop’ in Flemish which means so much as ‘real Liegeois syrup’.
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. Some people even add a small slice of gingerbread loaf. We call it ‘peperkoek’ here, which literally translates as ‘pepper cake’.
Kruidenkoek is also a Flemish name for it, spiced cake.
Can you find pear molasses around where you live?
How To Serve Flemish Karbonaden
What are some good old side dishes for this stew?
Or a classic potato mash with a side of buttery carrots and peas.
This Flemish karbonaden stew has to simmer and stew for quite a long time to get as tender and as soft as possible. And because of that then, you can also prepare it in a crockpot or pressure cooker of course!
I hope that you like this recipe!
Flemish Karbonaden Stew Recipe
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.