Last year my family and I went to Brussels, Belgium to visit some friends and do some sightseeing. I have been to Belgium before so I was excited to go back and learn more about this beautiful country. I know Belgium is well known for its chocolates, waffles, fries and beer but beyond that I didn’t know much about its culinary heritage. With influences from other neighboring countries – Netherlands to the north, Germany to the East and France to the South – its varied cuisine reflects that of its neighbors. I have read that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of the French! Having tested quite a few dishes there, I completely agree. The quality of food and the taste is truly superb! I can’t wait to go back there again.
Hankering for something Belgian and yummy, I decided to make Belgian stew. I have attempted the French Beef Bourguignonne before and totally love it but I thought this time I ought to make the Belgian version, after all the fall cooler temperature calls for a hot bowl of delicious stew! The main difference with the French stew and the Belgian Stew is that the former uses red wine for flavoring while the latter uses beer instead, particularly dark ale which until today are still manufactured in medieval Trappist monasteries using the same traditional technique of brewing beer from hundreds of years ago! No wonder Belgium is so well-known for its beer. So, you can imagine how the long slow-cooking of beef in beer can result in such a delicious, mouth-watering dish.
Indeed, the dish didn’t disappoint and I must say – I now rank this Belgian Beef Stew number one – a tie with the French Beef Bourguignonne! It is that good! Make sure that you use a good quality dark ale preferably the Belgian variety (like the one I used) to ensure the most flavorful and truly delicious stew. If you wish to eat like a Belgian, have the stew with some fries or bread and mustard sauce on the side. I like it with rice, too. Enjoy!
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1 Kilo/ 2.2 lbs Stewing beef (pref. chuck steak or roast), cubed
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 (12 oz) Bottle of dark Belgian Beer
1 Bouquet Garni*
2 Tablespoons Vinegar (pref. wine vinegar)
2 Tablespoons brown Sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
*Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with a string or placed inside a small sachet and is cooked with the other ingredients but is removed before the food is served. The herbs may vary but the usual ones are thyme, bay leaves and parsley. You can use fresh like the photo below or buy the dried ones in sachet.
Liberally season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. You can also roll it in flour, if you wish. I wanted a thinner stew with lots of sauce and also a gluten-free version so I didn’t bother with adding the flour.
Heat a deep pan like a Dutch oven. Melt the butter and oil using medium-high heat. Brown the cubed beef in batches to seal. Place the beef cubes in a large platter as you cook.
Saute the onions in the remaining fat in the pan until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or 2.
Return the meat to the pan and mix well with the onions and garlic. Pour in the beer. Add the bouquet garni, vinegar and brown sugar. Stir everything.
Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the beef is fork tender. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bouquet garni. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
Serve with fries, bread or rice! Pour all that yummy sauce on top!
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