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A Funny Little Place…

Belgium is one of those countries that seems so uninspiring and insignificant upon first glance. And then you remember Beer, Chocolate and Food and the fact that this tiny little place is home to people who speak 4 different languages (French, Dutch, German & English), and you start to realize what a magical and unique place it is. As you can see from the video below, Belgium is home to one of the most unique and complicated political and social structures on the planet.

Belgium is home to some of the world’s most influential organizations, including NATO and the EU headquarters.

A Little History:

Belgium is located in an area that used to be known as the Low Countries. (Along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg). The name Belgium is derived from a Roman province in Gaul called Gallia Belgica, which was inhabited by a people known as the Belgae. (A Mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples). All the way up until the 17th century, it was a center of culture and trade. This would be the case until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands.

Belgium is currently a nation of contrasts and controversy, fueled mostly by differences of language and economic development of the Flemish and Francophones peoples.

The Recipe:

IMG_2278The recipe we are making today is known by many names, including à la flamande & Stoverij or Stoofvlees in Dutch. It is made traditionally using Trappist beer made in Belgium or in some cases red ales depending on the taste and the availability. It is usually served with french fries (chips) or potatoes and has many variations, one of which is what we will use today, which is to cook the stew with a topping of bread and mustard. This is an absolutely mouth-watering culinary fantasy dish, but it will take you the better part of a day to prepare and cook it so plan accordingly. Our Method will include a slow-cooker, but if you do not have one you can also use an oven and a casserole dish or large dutch oven. Just pre-heat the oven to 170C (340F) and cook for 3 hours instead of 5 hours in the slow-cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 700g Beef Chuck Steak or Similar (Cut into 5mm thick pieces)
  • 300g of Bacon Rashers (Cut into squares)
  • 20g Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 5-6 Garlic Cloves (4 Whole/2 Chopped)
  • 3 Brown Onions (Roughly Diced)
  • 2 Cups (500ml) Beef Stock
  • 330ml (approx 1) Belgian Ale (We used Chimay Triple)
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3-4 Sprigs Parsley and/or Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Whole Seed or Dijon Mustard
  • 7-8 Slices Bread (We Used old French Baguette)

Method:

The first thing to do is to chop the beef and the bacon into pieces. Before you cut up the beef, use a paper towel to dry the beef as much as possible.

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Turn on your slow-cooker to low at this point.

Next, heat up the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high and cook the Bacon pieces until they are golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place into the slow cooker.

Next, brown the meat so that it is just brown on all sides, and then using the slotted spoon again remove the meat from the pan and place into the slow cooker with the bacon.

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Now it is time to cook the onion and garlic. Put the chopped onions and the 2 chopped garlic cloves into the pan and cook until they are clear. Next, place the whole garlic cloves in with the rest and then add the brown sugar. Once the brown sugar starts to caramelize, add in the red wine vinegar and cook for 2-3 minutes.

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Scrape the onion and garlic along with all of the juices into the slow cooker with the meat. Next pour the beef stock and the beer into the slow cooker.make sure that the meat is covered fully in the stock/beer.

Add the bay leaves and parsley & thyme and stir everything until it is mixed well.

The next step is to cut up a baguette into rounds, and then cover one side with the whole-grain mustard. place these slices on top of the stew mixture covering completely. Cover the pot and then leave to cook for 5 hours. (There is no need to stir until just before serving).

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Once 4 1/2 hours has elapsed, if you would like to cook potatoes or french fries you should put them on now so that it times out perfectly.

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SERVE HOT AND ENJOY….And if you bought an extra beer like I did, this would be the perfect time to drink it!

Further Reading:

Belgian Chimay Beer:

Learn more about the Trappist beer that is commonly found around the world and is the one we recommend for this stew.

Credits:

We used a variety of internet pages to finally source together our recipe, but a majority of our final recipe came from this taste.com.au post.

 

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