Carbonade de Bœuf: (Beef in Beer)

Carbonade de Bœuf:   (Beef in Beer)

Beef in beer can be wonderful.  Twice cooked (once on one day, allowed to cool overnight, then cooked again the following day) it tenderises beautifully.   You just need to be a bit organised, that’s all.

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      1st session: about 2 hours in a slow oven.                                                                                                  2nd session: 1 hour on the top of the cooker.

Course:        Good, solid, quality main course. Ideal to serve to guests who you want to impress (for whatever reason).

Serves:        4 to 6

Rating:         3:  Moderate, but just follow the method and all will be well.

This is a long and low oven-based casserole, twice cooked. 

You just need to be a little organised, then it’s quite easy.

  • 1 kilo chuck steak, skirt, shin…. (you can use rump, but if so, use the cheaper end)
  • 4 onions (red if poss, but…)
  • 2 or more cloves garlic…. Yes, more.
  • Half litre of light ale, stout or Guinness, depending on how ‘dark’ you wish it to be. I’d use Guinness if I was you.  NEVER EVER use lager.
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (use one of those long packets that you get when you go for coffee!)
  • Dried thyme leaves
  • Bay leaves – up to 4
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Seasonings
  • Large oven/hob casserole (Le Creuset or similar)


  • Put the oven onto about 130 Centigrade, ready for when you want to use it.
  • Cut the chuck steak into cubes, about an inch (2.5cm) each way. Good lunky chumps.
  • Peel and quarter the onions, separating the layers.
  • Use a broad-bladed knife to squash & peel the garlic, then chop it coarsely. Retain these, ready for use in a while.
  • Put some oil and a knob of butter into a large Le Creuset casserole or similar (You can use a frying pan for this but you’ll have to change pans after the first bit). Put it on the heat and whack it up to full.
  • As soon as the butter is melted, drop a few cubes of beef into the pan and make sure that they are frying off well. You are ‘browning the meat’ by doing this.  The finished casserole will benefit so much from this very important process.  They should not be touching each other as they will stew rather than fry, spoiling the flavours.
  • Browning will need to be done in batches, so when one batch is browned, put them onto a plate and put the next batch in.
  • When all meat is browned, put the onions into the fat & meat juices and fry them off for a few mins as well. Put in the sugar.  Mix well and fry off.  Take out the onions and put them with the meat, for now.
  • Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of plain flour into the resulting fats & juices in the pan, then the garlic and mix it all in. It’ll go all stiff and horrible-like.  Don’t worry; that’s normal.  Take it off the heat for a mo.
  • Open the beer. You do have a bottle opener, yes?  You’re stuffed if you haven’t! Pour the beer into the pot, gradually.  Mix in the beer and it will start to loosen.  Mix more in and it will start to froth, and go creamy.
  • Mix it well. Put back onto the heat and bring it to the boil.  It will thicken somewhat.  Don’t worry if it looks too thick.  Season with salt & pepper and then put the onions and the meat back in.
  • Chuck in the bay leaves (you did get some, didn’t you?….well, if you didn’t, it’s too late now, so ne’mind!) and a couple of big pinches of dried thyme. Mix well.    All the ingredienty-type bits are in there.
  • Put the lid on and put it in the middle of the oven. Close the door.
  • Go away for a couple of hours. Or more.
  • After a couple of hours or so, just turn it off and leave it there overnight.
  • On the morrow (another way of saying ‘next day’….I must make an appointment with my ‘therapissed’), about an hour or so before you want to eat it, put it on top of the cooker, remove the lid, peel off and discard any solidified fat layer from the top of the mixture. Don’t take the good stuff though!
  • SLOWLY bring it back to a simmer, occasionally stirring very gently; you need to avoid breaking up the meaty chunks. Check for correct seasoning and adjust as nec.
  • Put it onto the lowest heat that you can manage on the cooker top, plonk on the lid, just cracked open slightly, and leave for an hour or so, stirring occasionally (see note about being careful, above) with your large wooden spoon so that the mixture does not catch on the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve with roast veg?
  • Serve with baked spuds & steamed veg?
  • Serve with pride!

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