Carbonnade à la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew)


This classic Belgian beef stew is known for its sweet-sour combination of caramelized onions and beer. Any dark Belgian-style ale would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day or two after it's made.Recipes from Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. More Hearty Stews

Carbonnade à la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew)
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 pounds beef flatiron or blade steaks, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 3 cups thickly sliced onions

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • Three 12-ounce cans beer

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

  • Boiled carrots and potatoes, for serving


  1. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

  2. Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated, then slowly add the beer. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender, 2 hours.

  3. Uncover and transfer the meat to a bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and potatoes.

Make Ahead

The carbonnade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently.

Suggested Pairing

This stew is so hearty that it can handle a very tannic red like Cabernet Sauvignon.

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