Friday, May 25, 2012

Todd's Birthday Dinner from a Million Years Ago

About a million years ago, in March, I made beef and beer carbonnade for Todd's birthday dinner. 

Beef and beer carbonnade is Todd's favorite meal, so I always like to make it :) But it's also a great meal for a dinner party because you can guarantee it's delicious and it makes your house smell amazing while everyone is hanging out before dinner.

A few notes: this meal can get expensive fast. I bought chuck roast since it was Todd's birthday, but next time I'll use a less expensive cut. Authentic Belgian beer is probably at least $5, but next time I may very well use Blue Moon.

I served this over a bed of mashed potatoes with roasted, crunchy, salty brussel sprouts. In the past, I've served this over sweet potato fries, and I've also seen it served over egg noodles, but mashed potatoes soak up the juices nicely. 

Overall, this is a husband-pleasing, dinner-party-worthy meal, but be mindful that it will be at least three hours before it's ready. 

Beef and Beer Carbonnade 
From Simply Recipes, Serves 6
3 1/2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp butter
3 medium yellow onions sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) Belgian beer
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Pat beef dry with paper towels, then season well with salt and pepper. On the stove top, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot, almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the meat, without stirring, about 3 minutes on each side (do not stir, give the meat an opportunity to brown well). Transfer browned beef to a separate bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to dutch oven; reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook until onions are browned, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay, browned beef with any of the accumulated juices, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, let cook for 2-3 hours until beef is fork tender. (Alternatively can cook in the oven at 300°F.) Stir occasionally, scraping up anything that is sticking to the bottom of the pan. About half an hour before it finishes cooking, add the mustard and brown sugar. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Discard thyme and bay leaf. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Can serve plain, with potatoes, over noodles, or over French fries.

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