Beef stews feature heavily in French cooking. Hearty, rustic stews of beef and root vegetables are found throughout the country, with each region featuring recipes based on their wines, liquors or local ingredients. The Daube Provencale uses Mediterranean anchovies, orange, herbs and plump olives, all common in Provence. The Carbonnade a la Flamande is a beer-based stew relying on the dark flavor of the Belgian abbey-style beers from the Flemish region. And the Boeuf Bourguignon, from Burgundy, must include the area’s exquisite red wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, and a garnish of pearl onions and mushrooms.
Heavily inspired from this tradition of French stews, this recipe humbly features Stout Beer, and offers a cheaper and more accessible alternative of the world-renowned stew recipe. Finding a full-bodied and affordable bottle of Pinot Noir wine can often be a challenge when living outside of France – with the gruesome idea of using it as a cooking wine sometimes even more challenging. Stout Beer then comes as a more common commodity, and can surprisingly deliver deep and complex aromas, which are just as delectable.
Any stout beer and alcohol level will work for this recipe, as the stew is meant to be simmered for hours, to evaporate all the alcohol and only keep the intense roasted notes of the popular brew.
The whole preparation follows quite closely the steps of the Boeuf Bourguignon and calls for the same garnishing ingredients. But where the traditional red wine gives the stew a rich color with spiced cherry notes, the stout beer gives an equally deep hue and rich sauce, with warm malty flavors.
French beef stews are commonly served with mashed or boiled potatoes, but you can savor this Stout Beef Bourguignon just as much served on a bed of rice, with buttered noodles or with roasted potatoes.
- 6 ounces bacon, cut into solid chunks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
- 3lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 10-12 white mushrooms, sliced.
- 2 onions, cut in quarters. (or 10-12 pearl onions).
- 1teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3cups stout beer (equivalent of two 330ml bottles)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed.
- 1 spring thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 bay leaf, ideally fresh.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F.
- In a large Dutch oven, over medium-heat on your stove top, sauté the bacon in 1 tablespoon of oil (or butter) for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat drippings at the bottom of the Dutch oven.
- After cutting the beef, pat dry the cubes in paper towels; this will help browning the meat better. In small batches, in the Dutch oven, sear the beef cubes on all, and set aside with the bacon. Again, leave the fat drippings in.
- Dump the sliced carrots and onions in the Dutch oven, sauté them until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add the bacon and beef back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Toss around gently, sprinkle the ingredients with flour and toss some more.
- Place your Dutch Oven (with no lid) in the oven for 6-7 minutes, until it browns lightly.
- Remove the pot from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F.
- Back on the stove top, over medium heat, add the stout beer and beef stock in the pot. The liquid should barely cover the meat and vegetables. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a light simmer.
- Cover, and place the pot in the lower rack on the oven for 3.5 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork-tender.
- Open the lid, and toss in the mushrooms. Shake the pot to cover all the mushrooms with sauce, and cook for one more hour.
- Optional: Place a colander over a large pot. Drain the beef stew through the colander and into the pot. Place the pot with the sauce over a medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, skimming any fat on top. Pour the beef and vegetables back into the dutch oven.
- Serve with your choice of mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, rice, or buttered potatoes.