Friday, January 8, 2010

Carbonnade de Boeuf / Beef with Beer and Onions

Michelle here this time. I cooked the recipe this time, so I was told I got to be the one to write about it. This Flemish dish seemed appropriate for the cold Idaho weather we've been having lately. We followed directions until the treatment of the croutons, when we got a little lazy. Scott had initially planned to make this hearty stew on Tuesday night, but we've had a bit of a bug going 'round the Sprague household & we opted for laziness in the form of the pizza delivery guy instead. In retrospect, it was good that it worked out the way it did.

Cubes of chuck roast cooked for 2+ hours with caramelized onions and dark beer sounded delicious, and the flavor delivered. The only caveat I'd give is to make sure you have plenty of time. While most of the time spent is unattended, it definitely added up to a late meal. Of course, our stove is quite finicky about working properly at anything below medium, and caramelized onions need to be cooked below medium. A cooking time that was supposed to be 15-20 was more along the lines of 30-40.

This definitely wasn't an error in the book. It was all our stove top. The burner serves as more of a warmer than anything else at low temperatures, and I'm always foolish enough to assume this time will be different. I let the carbonnade stew for an extra 45 minutes or so while waiting for Scott to return from band practice. It was worth the long cooking time.

Scott was in love with the flavor. It was perfect, hearty winter comfort food. The onions and beer (Full Sail's Session Black this go-around) came together in a ridiculously rich sauce. The mustard we smeared on the croutons was a bit disjointed with the other flavors, but we didn't follow directions perfectly. I wasn't feeling like eating by the time Scott got home, but the bites I did have were delicious. I'd definitely make it again. Sadly, as a lunch dish the next day, it was a bit too heavy. I think that could have been cut a bit with a thick slice of sourdough.

For the next attempt, I'll make a few adjustments. I love Session Black by itself, but it lacks a little body to be used for a cooking beer. Perhaps a Deschutes Black Butte or a similar sweeter-flavored porter or stout would work better.

There was a touch of a bitter edge that I'm pretty sure could be attributed to the beer. I'd also love to get it done early enough in the evening to follow the directions for the croutons. Broiling them with a coating of hot Dijon mustard and pan sauce sounds divine.

Tonight, we're revisting a pork loin cooked in apples that we did this past fall. It was amazing then, and I'm looking forward to the treat. I suppose we need to get into some of the more daring dishes soon instead of relying on ones we know we'll enjoy, but I'm feeling a bit apprehensive. I'm hoping we're able to count on adventurous friends to share.

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