Flemish Beef and Beer Stew

It’s amazing how the places you visit just once, leave an indelible mark on you. From my last trip to Belgium, I packed a little bit of Bruges back home. Did you know Bruges is the chocolate capital of the world? Beer, comic books and fries are the first loves of a true-bred Belgian. And they go crazy over Mussels and…fries.
But, what you must try out as a first timer, is their Beef and Beer Stew. Accompanied with of course…the F R I E S 🙂
I was itching to try it out at home, and so I did. This of course, is a Googled recipe, but with a little twist of my own.
It poured last evening…thunderstorms, lightning and all. There couldn’t be a better way to keep warm and cooped up at home.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Around 3 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 kg stew beef (shoulder meat preferable)
2 large onions, roughly sliced
500 ml of dark beer
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 cloves
1 clove of garlic, minced
The recipe said 2 laurel leaves. I couldn’t find them in the supermarket. So I added 2 bay leaves.
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp of flour to thicken the gravy
A splash of balsamic vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps butter
Salt & pepper for seasoning

Method:
1. Take a small piece of cheese cloth and tie the rosemary, thyme & cloves in it. You’ll want to be able to remove it from the stew easily later on. If you don’t have one, that’s okay too. Picking out the sprigs later, isn’t that big of a deal.

2. Cut the meat in roughly 1-inch or bite-size cubes. Season with salt and pepper and leave aside.

3. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and brown the meat over medium heat. It’s best to do this in batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd the meat. Overcrowding means the meat won’t brown, it’ll rather steam and you don’t want this. You want a nice crispy brown edge on each piece of meat. Set each batch of meat aside. Don’t be alarmed by the brownish ‘crud’ that forms on the bottom of your pan, and definitely don’t try to get rid of it… This is where a lot of the flavor forms.

4. When all meat is browned, turn up the heat a bit and pour a splash or two of the beer in the pan. Save the rest for later. Scrape the bottom of your pan to loosen the browned bits the meat formed.

5. When most of the bits are loosened and starting to dissolve in the beer, add butter, sliced onions and minced garlic, and continue to cook on medium until the onions are translucent.

6. Add the remainder of the beer, browned beef, cheese cloth with herbs and the sugar, and cook over low heat for 2-3 hours until the beef is fork-tender. Add a teaspoon of flour to thicken the gravy.

7. Keep the lid off of your pot. Once you have reached the desired thickness of the sauce, only then place the lid on the pot.

8. When the stew is ready, remove the cheese cloth wrapped herbs and bay leaves, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir.

9. Serve hot with sides of hash browns, french fries, buttery potato mash or baked potato wedges. Potato is such a versatile veggie, no.

NonVeg

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Warm welcome to BitesandPlaces!
My humble little blog has its own story to tell… my story… I’m gregarious being, vagabond at heart and have a monstrous appetite for food. I used to be a Human Resource professional until few years ago. To be among, with and for people was the reason I’d chosen this field.
Being in HR, I could only accomplish the ‘people’ part. I still yearned to be in those places I saw on TV and travel magazines and craved to eat all kinds of food that lulls you into coma. I didn’t want to be just a spectator anymore. I wanted to be in those pictures.
Luck smiled at me and I fell sick with an awful heart, lungs and liver disorder. Family said stay home. Rest.
Rest? Were they crazy? I grabbed this opportunity and quit my job; to pursue my passion – people, places and food.

Being on my own gave me lot of spare time for all the three.
I’m not a professional cook, but I’m mighty passionate about cooking. Although Indian, BitesandPlaces does not restrict itself to just the dishes of my country, which are toothsome beyond doubt. I’ve also tried to put together a bunch of mouth-watering and eye-pleasing recipes scattered from all parts the world. A lot of them are a tribute to my mum’s kitchen, the ones I grew up with. Few of them are a result of my experimentation and few others, borrowed from my generous friends 🙂

I religiously follow Andrew Zimmern’s favorite quote – what looks good to your eyes, EAT IT!! After all food is something that follows no boundaries, isn’t it.

Travel, I believe, is about exploring new places, meeting new people, building new relations, soaking in their culture, gorging on their cuisines, discovering their stories and of course, capturing all of these in my teeny-tiny camera.

After having been there and done that, I was inspired to share my travelogues with you, encourage you to travel and in some way find a bit of your happiness through me.
Thus BitesandPlaces was born!

Life’s a journey and people, places and food are all a part of it. So, come along with me and eat your way through this journey called Life…

I like staying connected. And it’ll be a frosting on my cake if you drop a line or two at natasha@bitesandplaces.com.

Celebrate Life!!!
Natasha Gracious

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