January 1, 2013

Beef Carbonnade

Sometimes, you come across recipes that just make you weak in the knees. That always sound good, no matter what. The ones you make and then claim all of the leftovers for yourself. They're the first to pop into your mind when you think of feeding guests, and the one that always gets a request for the recipe. It certainly helps if it makes you feel completely awesome and gourmet while you're making it, because you're just that cool!

This is mine. It has been my go-to from the beginning of our marriage. It started from Cooks Illustrated, and I've tweaked it here and there, hither and yon, till I think I'm allowed to call it my own. If they get mad... oh well!! This recipe has been sitting in my archives since the middle of summer, because I just couldn't share it till cold weather truly set in, because that is where it fits best. I hope you like it. Writing it up has made my mouth water, I think I might have to make it again awfully soon!!

Beef Carbonnade
Printable Recipe

1 large chuck roast (3+ pound if you can get it!)
olive oil
3 Tb butter
2 large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Texas sweet onions. You can also use regular yellow onions, but we prefer these) halved and sliced in thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tb tomato paste
3 Tb flour
1 cup beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beer (if you're a beer drinker, you could use your favorite brand. The darker the beer, the stronger the flavor (and side effects, see note!) We like Odoul's Amber the best, and it's non-alcoholic, yay!)
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
1 Tb cider vinegar
salt and pepper (I like kosher salt for this)
*Note: Beer and onions have notorious side effects, right? Well, we've noticed (through years of testing) that with the non-alcoholic beer and the sweet onions, those side effects are pretty much eliminated. So they're worth being picky about, if you care about such things!!*

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Trim and cut your roast into 1 1/2-2 inch chunks. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and toss till all pieces are coated. Heat 2 Tb olive oil on medium high in a large dutch oven, or heavy-bottomed pan. Place half of the meat in the pan, in a single layer, and cook till the bottom is well browned. Flip each piece over, and cook till the other side is well browned. It should still be very red in the middle.
Remove this meat to a separate bowl, and repeat with the second half of the meat.

Reduce heat to medium or medium-low, and add butter. As the butter melts, scrape up all beefy bits you can. Add the onions, sprinkle with a bit of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and stir.
Cover and let the onions cook down till they get soft, browned, and translucent, about 10-15 minutes, checking and stirring often. If the edges start to burn, turn the heat down. Make sure to keep scraping up any beefy bits.
When onions are softened, add the garlic, and cook till fragrant and golden, about a minute. Then add tomato paste, and cook till warmed and coating the onions. Add flour, and stir till well coated, and cook for another few minutes, stirring often. Add broths gradually, whisking constantly to break up floury chunks.
Bring heat up to high, and add beer, beef&juices, thyme, bay leaf, and vinegar.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place dutch oven in your oven. (Or, if you are using a heavy bottomed pan, transfer the whole mixture to an oven-safe lidded baking dish, and place in the oven. I did this for years before I got my own dutch oven!) Cook about 2 hours, until beef is flaky and fork-tender (check at about 1 1/2 hours) If the gravy hasn't thickened quite enough, uncover for the last 30 minutes.

Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
We used to have these over mashed potatoes all the time, but man oh man, it is seriously rich!! This stew, basically, makes the richest, smoothest, beefiest, most amazing gravy ever. It's soooo good. Yes, there are a lot of steps, but it is seriously worth it! And once you've done it a few times, it's not so bad. :)
This is one of my all-time favorite meals. And it's perfect for winter. So comforting, and filling, and warm, and delicious!!! The beef gets fall-apart tender (sorry I don't have a picture of that), the onions just melt in your mouth, and into the gravy, and if you're worried about the beer, honestly, most people never guess if I don't tell them!
I like to shred up my beef and toss it all together, letting that silky-smooth gravy coat each noodle, with bits of flaky beef in every bite... oh, so delicious. A crowd pleaser, for sure!!


  1. This is perfect winter comfort food! SOOOO delicious :) Happy New Year!
    Mary x

  2. That looks so delicious April. I wish I had a dutch oven. I have to use a casserole for these types of things, which works well. I have a cast iron skillet and dutch oven on my wish list. Dreams can come true. Sending you warm comforting hugs on this winter's day. Love you much. xxoo

  3. Oh my - This looks absolutely scrumptious, April and I'm going to make it! We love comfort foods like this! Your personal touches make it sound fantastic!
    Happy New Year!

  4. Comfort food definitely warm us on the inside and out don't they. Thanks for sharing your recipe with Foodie Friends Friday. Please include a link back to www.foodiefriendsfriday.com.
    Your co host from Nosh My Way,

  5. These look fantastic! What an awesome idea I can’t wait to try this!
    Thank for sharing


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