Flemish Beef & Beer Stew (taken from: Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners)
Mark Peel is a genius comfort food chef, and this stew is perhaps one of the BEST stews you could ever serve to your loving family and/or close ones. The mustard on the bread, baked on top of beautifully stewed meat... it's the ULTIMATE casserole, if it even deserves to be called that. This is a rich, wonderful dish. Pure comfort.
(makes 4-6 servings)
- 2 pounds boneless chuck or round steak
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 ounces bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large or 3 medium onions, cut in half, then thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 ¼ cups dark beer (We used Guiness)
- A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a tarragon sprig, a few parsley
- sprigs and a few thyme sprigs
- 6 ounces country bread, cut in ½ inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Steamed or boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes or rice, for serving
1. Cut the meat against the grain into ½-inch-thick slices. Season with about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and lightly dredge into flour.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a wide, heavy skillet over high heat and brown the meat for about 2 ½ minutes on each side, in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Set aside on a plate.
3. Allow the skillet to cool slightly and add the bacon. Cook over medium heat until it begins to soften all the way through and render its fat, about 3 minutes, then add the butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions gently until light brown, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add the beer and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add ½ teaspoon salt and teaspoon pepper; and remove from the heat.
4. Preheat the oven to 350˚ (or you can cook this over a low heat on top of the stove). Layer one third of the onions on the bottom of a 3-quart casserole. Layer half the meat over the onions. Layer another third of the onions over the meat, and the remaining meat over the onions. Top with the remaining onions. Insert the bouquet garni into the onions and pour on the liquid from the pan. Cover the pot and place in the oven or over low heat and simmer gently for 2 ½ hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.
5. Spread the slices of bread with mustard on both sides. Lay the slices over the top of the casserole in a single layer, and press them down slightly so they absorb some moisture. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with steamed or boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice and accompany with beer.