Carbonnade a la Flamande is a traditional Flemish beef stew made with strong Belgian ale and has deep, earthy, sweet and slightly sour flavors.
The beef is so succulent that you will naturally classify this beef stew under comfort food. Comforting it is and also demanding of a Belgian ale to be paired with:)
Scroll down to the recipe card and video for detailed steps on how to make it or read on to learn about the history of the dish first.
Carbonnade a la Flamande Origins
The carbonnade (/ˌkɑːbəˈnɑːd/; a French word that means a thick stew of beef, onions, herbs, etc., cooked in beer) originated in a region now called French Flanders in the north east part of France, just south of Belgium.
This region was once part of the feudal state County of Flanders, then part of the Southern Netherlands.
Hence, the stew is sort of a shared traditional dish for several regions of modern day Europe, but because a rich Belgian ale is called for, Carbonnade a la Flamande is often considered a Belgian stew, whereas it is more precise to call if Flemish.
Carbonnade a la Flamande Ingredients
Given the history of the dish, there are a number recipes out there and even though they offer slight variations, the main ingredients are always the same.
You will need
- chuck beef for stew, cut in small cubes and coated with flour
- fatty pork (lardons or smoked bacon) to cook as the base of the dish
- beef stock
- spices, brown sugar and mustard
- and of course – Belgian ale
We chose a recipe by Nigella Lawson, my looong time favorite comfort food magician. Since her recipe can truly feed a group of 8-10 people (and what a great way to make an amazing meal for a large group without having to spend too long in the kitchen), we scaled it down a bit.
Choice of Beer
Our ale pick is the multi-award winning New Belguim Abbey, a Belgian style dubbel ale, brewed right here in our town. It has always been one of our most favorite Coloradan beers and New Belgium Brewing Co. is one of our favorite craft breweries. If you ever come to Fort Collins, be sure to take their brewery tour, we always take our guests and everyone loves it.
Otherwise, classic Belgian beer options include Chimay and Duvel, but you can also use the Ommegang Abbey Ale and even consider a dark ale that is sweet with a strong malty backbone and not too hoppy.
This stew! Being a lover of smoked pork I am all for the tasty lardons in the carbonnade. We used hickory smoked pork jowl but you can use thick cut smoked bacon pieces too.
We garnished with watercress – its subtle, peppery flavor complements the stew nicely.
Other garnish ideas include adding baked croutons and grated cheese on top of the stew while still in the pot, then placing the whole thing under the broiler for a minute or two.
Serving suggestions for Carbonnade a la Flamande
Traditionally Carbonnade is served with wide noodles or fries. Both are great choices.
This time around I made butter and heavy cream loaded mashed potatoes because I consider mashed potatoes the ultimate in comfort food sides.
You can also serve the stew with white rice, but an even better suggestion is to ladle some carbonnade into a freshly baked bread bowl.
Finally, just to be sure that we really emphasized this – this stew pairs perfectly with Belgian ales. Chris’ Belgian tripel was outstanding with this dish, but so is the Abbey ale itself.
Carbonnade a la Flamande - Beef Stew with Belgian Dubbel Ale
Succulent beef slow cooked in rich Belgian ale. Pair with more Belgian ale for a slice of heaven.
- 2 lbs beef shank or chuck cut into small cubes
- 1 cup of smoked pork lardons or bacon cut into small pieces, pork jowl works great
- 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 1 2/3 cups beef stock
- 2 cups dark Belgian ale
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Turn oven on to 300° F.
- Heat a large heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat and melt the butter.
- Add the lardons and cook them until crisp.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions. Stir well and cook until translucent.
- Add the dried thyme and ground allspice and mix them with the onions and lardons.
- Add the beef cubes, dust them with flour and turn them around a few times.
- Add the mustard and brown sugar and stir.
- Add the beef stock and beer and stir again.
- Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
- Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper, give a final stir and cover with the lid.
- Put the covered pot in the oven and cook for 3 hours. Check to see if the meat is fork tender (it should be) and if needed cook for another 30 mins.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 -6 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 527Saturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2.5gSugar: 7.4gProtein: 51g
I was looking for a recipe for a stew using my homebrewed dubbel and moose roast. I made this with the addition of carrots and potatoes and it was a hit. I’ve probably made it 15 times in the last year. Thanks!
Dave, you just made our day! So happy that you stopped by with a kind word. The way you describe making the stew sound absolutely fabulous! Moose roast with the carrots and potatoes thrown in and dubbel…just dreamy. We have to try it (if we can locate a hunter to tap for the meat, but have an idea how to go about it).
I don’t think I’ve ever made beef stew before but when I get around to it, THIS is the recipe I’m going to try! Once again, your food looks utterly mouthwatering! Pinning!
Thank you, Christina! You have got to make this stew:) The beef is so tender and the flavors so complex and fulfilling.
Barrie Bismark says
Yummy! I haven’t had a good beef stew in a long time!
Marvellina | What To Cook Today says
I can so use a huge bowl of this beef stew now! We’ve just dug ourselves out from mountains of snow and the thought of scooping this inside my mouth is pretty much an entertainment itself 🙂
OMG, I hear you about the snow! The main reason I dislike winter and the main reason I do like it (skiing, period:). I think that shoveling snow a few times a day has helped me tone my arms way more than anything I could ever do at the gym, lol. I guess inhaling the waft of stew slowly cooking in the oven is a great motivation to go shovel more snow:)
Yum, that sounds amazing!! Pinning this one to try soon. 🙂
Thank you, Jamie!
It’s totally beef stew season and you are serving us up one hearty beef stew. I can totally see you Happy sign + a smiling 🙂 I don’t eat meat anymore but it’s hard to resit tender beef stew, mmm mmm good. I’ve never had pork Jowl but now I want to try it. I like the idea of adding some baked croutons and grated cheese, sounds like a beefed up onion soup. Loving your video! You are so talented
OMG, your comment is making me hungry:) Maybe I should make this stew again next week. I always say you should have it at least twice per winter, ahem, beef stew season. Thank you, Mary!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
I want this for dinner!!! All of your recipes are so yummy! I would put a generous amount of vinegar on this (don’t judge) , have a beer and be one happy lady! You make it look too easy 😉 Pinned! Have a wonderful week, you guys!
Not at all, Dawn! It is meant to be sweet sour and many recipes call for apple cider vinegar. In this one the sour comes from the mustard, but adding vinegar once served is totally legit. You are spot on:) And it really is super easy to make, promise! Thank you!!
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
I’m glad you reposted this because I missed it last time and it sounds delicious! I’m all about comfort food in January. (Cold and I are not friends.) I love how fancy the name sounds too :). Have a great week!
I hear you about the cold, Kelsie! Did you know, sometimes people add a ginger cookie all crumble into this stew. to kick the spiciness and sweetness up a notch. I only eat ginger cookies when it is cold, lol.
[email protected] says
Is there anything better than stew on Sunday? Oh, I know – leftovers all the rest of the days! This looks divine!
Lol, yes! I just had leftovers from it yesterday:) Thank you, Annie!
Loved it! It was my first time making carbonnade and I am glad I chose this recipe, very easy.. Made it for my in laws actually.
Mary Gardner says
This beef stew looks and sounds delicious and I am excited to try it. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much, Mary!
This looks so good for a cold night like tonight
It is the perfect solution for cold weather, that’s for sure:)
A nice bowl of hot, hearty stew sounds perfect to me right now…It is freezing here in Michigan.
Stephanie Phelps says
Oh my gosh this is so cool to know the history behind it. I was just going to to get the recipe but now I have something I can share at dinner about the history! I am going to be making this very soon! Thank you for the recipe!
I swear this stew is calling my name…Colleen…Colleen…Colleen! It somehow knows that I want it!
I believe it has a mind of its own:) Thanks, Colleen!
karrie @ Tasty Ever After says
OH MY OH MY!!!! This stew looks amazing and I could drink a pitcher of that sauce! I have a package of local farm stew beef in my freezer that has to be used up soon and have some Victory V12 Quad so I’ll be making this recipe this week (plus our weather is cold rain all week- perfect for stew!). Like the way you think on the mashed taters cos that’s how I make them. Gotta have butter and cream or just juhgeddaboutit 😉
Thank you Karrie! It was such a delicious stew! I bet that the Victory V12 Quad will be a perfect fit. Rainy days are made for Belgian quads:)
Miz Helen says
Your Beef Stew looks fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome recipe with us
Thank you Miz Helen! This stew is really one to make again and again. Thank you for your kind words.
Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks says
Thanks so much for the link love! This stew sounds amazing and I’d love to try some of Chris’ tripel. Both would be perfect for a rainy day!
Thank you Rachelle! We are flattered, really. It is a good tripel:)