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Belgian Recipe: How to make Flemish carbonade

Posted on10/11/2020 by
Belgian Recipe: How to make Flemish carbonade

Flemish carbonade is a great classic of Belgian cuisine and a culinary heritage of Flanders. When winter comes, it becomes one of those traditional dishes cooked slowly over low heat.

This Belgian dish is called "stoofvlees", "Vlaamse Stoverij" or "Vlaamse stoofkarbonade" in Dutch. In its beginnings, the meat of this stew was prepared over charcoal embers, hence its name. Recipes similar to this are also prepared in the north of France, in fact Burgundian beef is a first cousin of this dish, with the basic difference that it is cooked with wine instead of beer.

Belgium, stands out for the flavor of its beer, and, it goes without saying that the secret of carbonates lies in the deep and dark flavor of Belgian Trappist beer such as Chimay or Westmalle, although many also use amber wheat and barley beer as Geuze (with a strong acid character) or Leffe, abbey beer, dark and slightly sweet, which goes perfectly with the meat and onions on the plate.

How to make Flemish carbonade


  • 1kg of veal (without bones). If it can be, cheek, shoulder or hock. If you want to use firmer meat, such as knuckle, the cooking will be longer (approximately 4 hours).

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 onions
  • 30 grams of butter
  • 75 cl. Belgian beer (can also be made with a national dark beer)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 4 slices of sweet gingerbread
  • Mustard
  • Salt and pepper


  • Cut the meat into chunks, taking care to remove excess fat and ribs. In a saucepan, sauté the meat with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. It is not necessary to cook the meat, just brown it slightly.
  • Remove the meat from the casserole and let the butter melt. Add the sliced ​​onions (it doesn't matter if they are not well chopped, they will disappear eventually) Stir occasionally until golden brown. Add the brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour a little water to cook the onion and prevent it from burning.
  • When the water has evaporated, add the meat and its juices. Sprinkle the meat with a tablespoon of flour and mix well. The amount of flour depends on the desired consistency. The sauce in this dish is creamy, not too runny.
  • Pour the beer covering the entire meat with it.

Classic Belgian dish

  • Prepare the gingerbread, with its unique ginger flavor, by smearing it with the mustard. For this recipe, a classic village bread can also be used. It is then placed on top of the meat. In three minutes it will dissolve.

  • Bring to a boil and lower the temperature almost to a minimum, to maintain a slight boil. Cover and cook over a very low heat for between two and a half or three and a half hours depending on the quality of the meat, slightly stirring the stew every 20 or 30 minutes. The last half hour is convenient to remove the lid so that it helps to evaporate a little the water from the sauce, making it more creamy.
  • Undoubtedly, what really gives this stew its distinctive character is the addition of brown sugar that, together with the sweetness of the caramelized onion, contrasts with the beer, creating an intense bittersweet combination.
  • You can also add carrots to the dish to add their natural sweetness. This tasty stew of sweet and spicy sauce and melting meat is traditionally served with fried potatoes, although some prefer them mashed or boiled and there are others who serve it with vegetables to avoid remorse.
  • Another suggestion is to serve them with gingerbread cut into triangles. Many prefer to cook the dish for two hours the day before, cooking it for another hour the next day.
  • In any case, the result is a tender and sweet meat that melts on the palate. A special hot dish, ideal for winter and to enjoy with friends and family. A classic in Belgian culture.

Traditional Belgian dish

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