Wednesday, January 11, 2006

beef, beer, and gingerbread

...now we're talkin'. Per another suggestion/recipe from Clotilde, I made Carbonades Flamandes the other day. The dish is a traditional Belgian (Flemish) stew, made with stewing beef, beer, and pain d'epice (French spice bread), and traditionally served with french fries (a Belgian dish) or other potatoes. Apparently the meat used to be grilled before stewing, which is where the "Carbon" in Carbonades comes from... If you've got a grill handy, I'll bet that works quite well...

I adapted the recipe and made it with shin of beef, Heinekin Dark, and fresh gingerbread. Shin of beef is an inexpensive and very flavorful cut of beef for stew. Heinekin Dark is vastly better than the Heinekin you normally get. Amusingly, it's hard to find Heinekin Dark in Amsterdam, as real Dutch people don't like beer darker than a light orange... Gingerbread was my replacement for pain d'epice, and it's just a quickbread with lots of molasses and some dried ginger and other spices. You only use 1/4 of the recipe, too, so you get lots of extra gingerbread, yum. (Real gingerbread is much better than the dry batter they use to make gingerbread cookies...) I also boosted up the onions a little bit, and omitted the additional sugar from the stew proper. I forgot to get potatoes, so I served the stew with egg noodles, which were just fine. When I reheated it for leftovers, though, I made Mark Bittman's pan-roasted potatoes, which were of course excellent.

I've written up the recipes for Carbonades Flamandes, gingerbread, and pan-browned potatoes, should you care to make this fantastic and very easy stew yourself...

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