carbonnade flamande

beef cooked in beer...delicious!

Carbonade Flamande or beef carbonade as it is sometimes called is a delicious dish of beef steak cooked in beer which gives it a very tasty sauce or gravy.

It is found in northern France as it came originally from Belgium and is one of the most appetizing dishes you can make. Often cheaper cuts of beef are used but it is much better made with skirt and cut into good size pieces.

We have found it is a favourite dish of ours when in northern France especially on a chilly day. It is a warming and satisfying meal and of course lovely with a glass of delicious French beer to wash it down.

It can be served with small boiled potatoes but one of my favourite side dishes with carbonade flandes is pasta or noodles.

Try it with both and see which you like best. Great for a family dish and if you want an easy dish to make for your friends, then you will not go far wrong with this as it is easy to make and can be made in advance, giving you time to relax before your meal.

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 2½ lbs (1.3kg) chuck beef steak, shin beef or thick skirt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or pork dripping or pure lard
  • 8oz onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • half a pint beer


  • Cut the beef into thick strips about 2ins long.
  • Heat the oil or fat in a heavy  bottomed pan and seal the beef strips for a few minutes on each side.
  • When all are sealed, place on a warm plate.
  • Soften the onions in the pan for a few minutes without browning them.
  • Put the meat back in the pan.
  • Add the beer and if needed, add some water to cover the meat.
  • Season with salt and black pepper and add the bouquet garni.
  • Cover with a lid and bring to boiling point; at this stage you can either reduce the heat and simmer for an hour on top of the cooker or place in a moderate oven for an hour until cooked.
  • When the meat is cooked, remove and place in a warm dish.

To make the sauce:

  • Heat the vinegar with the sugar in a small saucepan until it bubbles and forms a dark caramel.
  • Stir in two tablespoons of boiling water and add this mixture to the pan, this gives it a good colour.
  • We enjoy carbonade flamande with a thicker sauce - simply mix the tablespoon of butter with the flour and stir it into the sauce.
  • Replace the meat in the pan.
  • Bring to boiling point and then simmer again for ten minutes.

Serve with noodles or plain boiled potatoes and a glass of beer.

If you have any of your carbonade flamande left over (doubt if you will) you can freeze it ready for another day. You could of course make a larger batch in the first place, and freeze some of it.

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