This Flemish beef stew, or carbonnade flamande, is the national dish of Belgium. It is the perfect dish to serve to friends on a cold winters evening. I love to serve it with crispy potatoes in their jackets but it would be equally lovely with smooth mashed potatoes which would just soak up the lovely rich gravy.
- ¼ kg stewing beef cut into 4cm cubes
- 400 ml Trappist ale such as Leffe or Chimay or other dark ale
- 3 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2-3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 250 g diced pancetta
- 2 carrots sliced
- 2 onions sliced
- 1 leek sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 350 ml beef stock
- 1 in bouquet garni (a small bunch of thyme parsley stalks, a bay leaf and about 6 peppercorns tiedmuslin)
- Marinate the beef overnight in the ale with the garlic and bay leaves.
- The next day, drain the beef from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
- Pat the meat dry with kitchen paper and toss it in the seasoned flour until evenly coated. Shake off any excess flour so it is lightly dusted.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the rapeseed oil in the inner pot until hot and fry the beef in 3-4 batches for about 5 minutes per batch, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a little more oil between batches but make sure it is hot again before adding the next batch. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and fry the pancetta in the inner pot, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden.
- Scoop the pancetta out with a slotted spoon and set aside with the beef.
- Add the carrots, onions and leek into the inner pot and fry, until they start to brown.
- Add the tomato purée, the beef, the reserved marinade, the pancetta, the beef stock and bouquet garni to the casserole.
- Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling turn down to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the vacuum-insulated outer Mr D's Thermal Container.
- Shut the lid and leave to thermally cook without power for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Serve mashed potatoes or potatoes in their jackets and greens.
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