I have seen lots of recipes for Beef Carbonnade and over time I have developed my own that seems to suit my household the best. A lot of them call for large slices of onions but not everyone in my house will eat them. By cooking them almost like I am making an onion soup, they are not as noticeable. Braising is one of my favorite ways to cook. As the chef Anne Burrell says, “brown food tastes good” and “cook low and slow”. These are two great ways to develop a deep flavored dish.
This recipe can be a basis to make lots of different dishes. Want to make a beef stew? Add diced carrots and potatoes about an hour before its done cooking in the oven. In our house we like to serve the beef over rice. Use your imagination!
#1 – Bacon
I find the easiest way to cut the bacon is to take the whole package and cut it in half top to bottom. I freeze the other half for the next time I need bacon. This cut of bacon is referred to a lardon. Continue to thinly slice the bacon in the same direction. The below picture gives a good explanation of what I am talking about. Then break up the pieces a bit so they don’t form together when you are frying them.
#2 – Beer
For braising you can use whatever beer you like. It is traditional to use a darker beer like a Guinness but I am not a fan. I like to use Blue Moon. Two of the ingredients of it are coriander and orange peel which I believe plays well with cooking. It also does not give that strong after taste. If you like dark beer however, go for it!
#3 – Onion
If you’re not sure what I mean by slicing pole to pole, here is a great video to help. It also shows the proper way to dice an onion.
4 pound chuck roast, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
½ package bacon, cut into thin slices
2 onions, sliced pole to pole in ¼ inch slices
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups beer
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper the meat. Using a large dutch oven, brown meat on all sides on medium to high heat. You are not trying to cook them at this point you are just trying to develop the flavor. You do not want to overcrowd the pan so it will take several batches to do this. You need to be able to achieve the brown crusty outer layer. If you put too much in, you may just steam the meat.
Transfer to a bowl or plate when done.
Add the bacon to the pan and cook on a medium heat until brown and crispy, remove from pan. You don’t want to cook the bacon too fast because you are trying to render the fat out to cook the onions, and you do not want to burn the bacon.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the Dutch oven, and add the onions. Cook for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat. You are trying to caramelize the onions so be patient. If the pan gets a bit dry you can add a bit of olive oil. If you leave too much of the bacon fat in you will end up with a oil slick on the top of your braise.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Add garlic, thyme & nutmeg to the onions – cook for 30 seconds until very aromatic
Add tomato paste & flour – cook for 1 minute
Wisk in chicken broth. Give the mixture a good stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to get any bits loosened up.
Add beer, bay leaves and all meat – bring to a simmer.
Cover pot and put in the oven for 2 hours.