Classic French Flemish Beef Stew Recipe

Beef in beer stew served with mash
Stuart West/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
    2 hrs 5 mins

Classic French Flemish beef stew, is also known as Carbonnades Flamandes and is not in fact, French, but the national dish of Belgium. The dish is hearty and satisfying, this recipe takes less than two hours to prepare, and also is nice enough to serve for a sit-down family meal.

To serve, add a crisp green salad, roasted potatoes, and a good bottle of wine for a spectacular feast worthy of an upscale auberge du terroir on a chilly evening. The stew also makes a family supper, but you may want to leave out the wine. 

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds beef, 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 sliced onions (4 medium)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 12-oz bottle dark beer
  • 1/4 cup -1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

How to Make It

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

Heat the canola oil and butter in a large roomy pan,  brown the beef in the canola oil and butter. Brown the meat 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.

Place all the beef back in the pan once browned and add the onions, garlic, brown sugar, and herbs to the it and stir thoroughly. The onions will pick up a bit of the browned bits in the bottom of the pan.

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 stew, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 ½ hour or until the beef is tender. Keep checking tp make sure the beef is simmering and also, not boiling dry. If it seems a little dry, add a touch more stock. The liquid int he pan should also be thickening slightly. 

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

If you are able to make this stew one day in advance you will find it is even better. 

Makes 6 servings.