I have a thing for cookbooks. Some people have a hard time passing up a great pair of shoes, I have a hard time passing up an appealing cookbook. More often than not, I only try a handful of recipes but if I find one outstanding recipe that makes the book purchase more than worth it. Two years ago I picked up a cookbook, The Food Of France. The book was worth the price just for the pictures. However, I found many good recipes in this book and one of them I choose for our Christmas Dinner- Beef Carbonnade.
Beef Carbonnade is a simple dish with only a few ingredients. What makes this just so good is that the beef is cooked slow so that it is so tender it melts in your mouth with such deep flavor coming from the onion, garlic, herbs and beer. You need to have the beer to make this recipe taste so good you remember it for a long time. If you must, you can switch the beer for beef broth, but this will give you a dish that, while still good, is not really all that memorable.
Following is the recipe, however, not exactly like it was in the book. I know, I am not even French and I am tweaking their recipes- I just can’t help myself. However, what I changed was the amount of food. This recipe will feed 6 were as the one in the book will only feed four. I did also change the amount of garlic. One clove is never enough. The recipe below calls for 6 onions- these are medium size onions. If you have been to the Farmer’s Market and have come home with onions the size of large grapefruits you can use 4 of those if you want. The onions cook down in to this thick sauce that is just mouthwatering good especially when soaked up with some wonderful french bread. So, the more the better. I use a cast iron dutch oven, but you can use whatever you have in your kitchen.
1 oz butter (real butter, not margarine)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
5-6 lb beef rump roast or chuck roast- cubed 1 inch in size
5 garlic cloves – crushed
2 tsp of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of plain flour
4 cups of beer (one of the large single cans of a malt beer works great)
4 bay leaves
a small bunch of thyme sprigs
1 loaf of really good french bread
Preheat the oven to 300′ Melt butter in a large skillet with a tablespoon of oil. Brown the meat in batches over high heat and lift out onto a plate
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic and sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, adding oil by the tablespoon if necessary. Lift onion out onto a second plate.
Reduce heat to low and pour any juices that have drained off of the meat, then stir in the flour.
Remove from the heat and stir in the beer a little at a time stirring well, the beer will foam. Return to heat and let the mixture gently simmer and thicken. Season with salt and pepper.
layer meat and onion in a dutch oven, tucking the bay leaves and thyme in between the layers. Season with salt and pepper as you go.
Pour liquid over the meat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2.5-3 hours or until the meat is tender.
Serve with the sliced french bread toasted lightly on both sides.
This main dish goes great with potatoes of any kind, green beans or sweet peas.