Friday, October 3, 2008

Beef AND Bacon?? Oh Frabjous Day!

Beef Carbonade
There were some things my mom would cook when I was growing up that were special. The day would seem a little warmer, a little brighter. The smells wafting from the kitchen would carry you up the stairs. Steak Pizzaiola and Eggplant Patties would make you go farther and work harder.

But Beef Carbonade would make you its slave.

This is a rich, hearty stew that starts and ends with bacon. In between, you have lots and lots of onions cooked into a bottle of dark beer (the darker and sweeter the better) until they practically melt. The delicious juice makes this dish best served over rice. You can cook this in a standard pot for about 2 hours, or do what mom did: use a pressure cooker. Under pressure, the beef will be fall-apart tender in about 25 minutes. You can add carrots, as one roommate suggested, but remember they will change the sweet/savory balance.

I've used dark beers from Eastern Europe like Baltika 6 and Okocim. The Eastern European beers also come in larger bottles, so "1 bottle" here might mean 1.5 standard American 12 oz. bottles. There's no need to hunt down a specific brew, but a quality porter that's a little sweet and not bitter can improve this stew 100%. However, I would not recommend using Guinness, which I thought overwhelmed the other flavors.

Beef Carbonade

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 slices bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. stew beef, cubed
3 large sweet onions, sliced thin
1 bottle dark beer
1-2 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a deep pot and cook the bacon until crisp, then remove the bacon and set it aside. Add your garlic and meat, and cook until slightly browned (this makes what the French call "fond", the rich meaty flavor you get from browning meat). Add the onions and cook together until lightly browned. Add the beer, beef broth, and seasonings except salt and bring to a boil while stirring. Lower heat, cover the pot and let it simmer for at least half an hour. Cook for 1-2 hours or until beef is fall-apart tender. When cooking is almost done, taste the stew to determine whether or not it needs more salt or other seasonings adjusted. Black pepper is also best added at the end. Just before serving, crumble the bacon and stir it back into the stew. Serve over Jasmine or brown rice.

1 comment:

Wing said...

FUCK YES! I was just looking at a recipe like this earlier today. I should make it Sunday.