This is a sweet and mildly tangy Flemish beef casserole stewed with Belgian abbey-styled beer. Use a dark Trappist ale like Leffe Radieuse, Ommegang Abbey Ale or Chimay Blue for a luscious caramel-ly finish.
The stew derives its sweetness from copious lashings of onions, sweated and caramelised with a touch of sugar, and its sour tang from a dollop of wholegrain mustard and tomato paste.If you don't have mustard and/or tomato paste, you can substitute either with each, or apple cider vinegar.
Like all stews, this can be prepped well beforehand, and reheated when needed.
Ingredients (feeds 5-6 pax):
1 kg beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 large onion (or 2 medium-sized onions), diced to 1cm squares
3 large cloves garlic, minced
400 gm white button mushrooms, sliced thickly
2 large carrots, diced to 3/4" cubes
1 bundle fresh thyme (about 10-15 sprigs), tied together with butcher's string
1 bay leaf
1 bottle beer, about 330ml (after scouring the supermarts, I could only find Chimay Blue at Marketplace)
1 cup beef stock
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
3 tbsp bacon-chicken fat oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1) Sear beef till browned and caramelised on all sides, salting liberally, in 2 tbsp of bacon-flavoured oil.
2) Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, so do it in batches. Set aside and reserve in stewing pot.
3) Using the same browning pan, add another tbsp of bacon-chicken fat to melt, and sweat onions and garlic till soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
4) Add carrots, and fry for about 3 minutes.
5) Add mushrooms and sweat till water released is almost evaporated.
6) Transfer the mixture to the stewing pot with the browned beef. Add beer, and reduce a little, about 3 minutes on medium-high heat.
7) Add thyme bundle, sugar, tomato paste, wholegrain mustard, and stir through. Add beef and chicken stock to cover just the top of the entire stew.
8) Bring to a boil and lower to simmer for at least 3 hours for a soft but still firm texture. 4 hours simmering time if you prefer a meltingly soft consistency. If prepping in advance, simmer for 2 hours, and pop into the fridge for use up to a week. Reheat, on low fire, for 2 hours.
9) Salt to taste before serving, and mill fresh pepper for a subtle heat.