Stoverij (Flemish Beef and Beer Stew)
I decided to make this particular dish because I was feeling a little Flemish. No, I don’t have a cold, I mean Flemish, meaning “from Flanders”, okily dokily? Doh! Not that Flanders!
Anyway, Stoverij (also known as Carbonade Flamande) is a popular dish and street food in Belgium. Usually served with fries (or frites, as they are known in Belgium), it is a hearty beef and beer stew. I highly recommend that you seek out a Belgian ale to use in this recipe. Not only does it lend authenticity, it lends plenty of flavor. A dark Belgian double works best, but if you can’t find one a brown ale such as Newcastle will do. When I say it’s a beef stew, I mean it’s a beef stew. There’s no carrots, potatoes, peas or other vegetables, just onions, beef, beer and flavorings. Usually simmered for 3 hours or more, the pressure cooker makes tender, falling apart morsels of beefy goodness in less than half the time.
I like this recipe because it taps into my obsession with spices. It always fascinates me how you can take the same exact basic ingredients, but a change in the seasonings makes it an entirely different dish. For instance, this starts out almost exactly the same as my German Style Goulash. But instead of adding a lot of paprika, using a little thyme and a couple other ingredients you are instantly transported from Germany to Belgium. Interesting, right? Ok, maybe just to me, but that doesn’t stop this from being a mighty tasty treat, especially in the cooler months.
And as an added bonus, it also satisfies my other obsession, “fries covered with stuff”. I have been on a Poutine kick for a couple years now, and along with the American classic Chili Cheese fries, Stoverij is just another arrow in my “smothered fries” quiver.
The secret ingredient? A slice of bread covered with mustard! You could just add the ingredients, but the slice of bread with mustard placed upside down over the stew is traditional, and who am I to mess with tradition? I used a slice of pumpernickel, but any rye or whole wheat bread will do. If there is a rather heavy crust on it, you can trim it off as I have noticed that the crust doesn’t dissolve into the stew as well as the rest of the bread. The traditional bread would be peperkoek, a dutch spice cake, but alas, I don’t know where the heck to get any. You could use a slice of gingerbread, which would be close, but I haven’t tried that yet.
This recipe also calls for red currant preserves, but some recipes substitute brown sugar, which you can do if you can’t find red currant preserves.
Since a lot of folks seem to have received a new Instant Pot electric pressure cooker over the holidays, I made this in my Instant Pot. It can easily be adapted to a stove top cooker as well.
As I do for almost all stews, I start with some beef chuck (about 3 pounds), cut into cubes about 1 inch in size.
In the Instant Pot, with the sauté mode on “more”, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil in the Instant Pot and brown the meat on 1 side, working in batches. It took me 3 batches. Remove to a plate. If there is a lot of grease in the pot, drain most of it out.
Turn off sauté mode for a couple of minutes for heat to come down a bit, then turn sauté mode to “normal”. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and sauté two onions, halved then sliced. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions just barely start to caramelize, about 10 minutes or so.
Add the rest of the ale to the pot along with 2 cups of beef stock, 2 tablespoons of Red Current jam, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet (you can leave this out if you want to).
In a spice bag or cheese cloth place 4 whole cloves, 1 star anise, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves. Toss this into the stew.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Slather a slice of dark rye or whole wheat bread (crusts trimmed) with a thick coating (about 2 tablespoons) spicy mustard. Place mustard-side down on top of the stew.
Turn off sauté mode and lock the top on the pot.
Turn on “manual” mode and set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
When time is up, let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release.
Turn back to sauté mode on normal and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken a bit, stirring to dissolve the bread into the stew.
Give it a taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference.
Traditionally, this is served with fries. For the leftovers I broke with tradition and served on mashed potatoes, and it was good!
|Pressure Cooker Stoverij|| |
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 star anise
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, halved then sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 1 bottle brown Belgian Ale
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons red current preserves
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
- 1 slice dark rye or whole wheat bread (crusts trimmed)
- On "more" sauté mode, heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- Brown beef on one side, working in batches until all meat has been browned on one side
- Turn off sauté mode and let the temperature come down for a couple minutes
- On "normal" sauté mode, melt 3 tablespoons of butter
- Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally until they just start to caramelize, about 10 minutes
- Using just a splash of the beer, scrape the brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon
- Pour in the rest of the beer
- Add in the beef stock, red current preserves, Worcestershire sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, salt and black pepper
- Toss spice bag in
- Slather the bread with a thick coating of mustard and place, mustard side down on top of the stew
- Turn off sauté mode
- Lock lid on the Instant Pot
- Press "manual" and set to high pressure for 30 minutes
- When time is up, remove lid
- Set sauté mode to "normal" and simmer for 10 minutes to blend bread into stew
- Serve with French fries and mayonnaise for dipping