Classic French Flemish Beef Stew

Beef in beer stew served with mash
Stuart West/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
  • Total: 2 hrs 5 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 105 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
587 Calories
27g Fat
33g Carbs
49g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 587
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 145mg 48%
Sodium 422mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 49g
Calcium 132mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Classic French Flemish beef stew, is not, in fact, French, but the national dish of Belgium but is also loved by the French. This dish is also known as carbonnades flamandes (literally "Flemish stew") and is hearty and satisfying that is not only nice enough to serve for a sit-down family meal would make a real treat at your next dinner party. The best part? It takes less than two hours to prepare.

To serve the stew, add a crisp green salad, roasted potatoes on the side and don't forget a good bottle of wine for a spectacular feast worthy of an upscale auberge du terroir ("local inn") on a chilly evening. If serving the stew for a family supper, don't worry about the beer in the recipe. The alcohol cooks off leaving only a deep depth of flavor and no intoxicating effects.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat (cut into 2-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups/4 medium yellow onions (sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
  • 1/4 cup to 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together the beef, flour, salt, and pepper.

  3. Heat the canola oil and butter in a large, roomy pan and brown the beef in it on all sides in batches. If you add all the beef at once it will lower the temperature too much and the meat will boil rather than sear. Carefully watch the beef to make sure it doesn’t burn though, but give it enough time to develop a nice, rich brown color–the caramelized sugars will greatly enhance the stew’s flavor.

  4. Place all the beef back in the pan once browned and add the onions, garlic, brown sugar, parsley, bay leaf, and thyme and stir thoroughly. The onions will pick up a bit of the browned bits in the bottom of the pan.

  5. Raise the heat under the pan and stir in the beer and add enough beef stock to cover the beef in the pan. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender. Keep checking to make sure the beef is simmering and not boiling dry. If it seems a little dry, add a touch more stock. The liquid in the pan also should be thickening slightly. 

  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Let the stew stand for 10 minutes before serving. Portion into heated bowls with the potatoes and salad on the side. 

  7. Enjoy!

Note: If you are able to make this stew a day or two in advance, you will find it is even better. And, if this dish is not already magnificent, it freezes beautifully, so make a large batch and store it in the freezer. It will keep well for up to six months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating.