We crossed the border into Belgium today and had an incredible day exploring the trenches at Sanctuary Wood. Ypres is very nice too and it gave me chance to buy two special ingredients for this delicious beef stew, Belgian beer and Belgian chocolate!
Stoofvlees, also known as La Carbonade La Flamande, is a traditional beef stew slow cooked and served with chips. Endives are very popular here so I sauteed some in garlic butter to add a little bit of veg. The interesting bit that caught my eye is that Stoofvlees is topped with mustard coated bread that slowly melts into the stew to thicken it. I've got to give that a go and here it is!:
750g Beef, any slow braising cut will do, chopped into bite size pieces
750ml Beer, it should be Belgian but any dark beer will do
2x Onions, diced
4x Garlic cloves, crushed or diced
2x Carrots, peeled and sliced
30g Belgian strong dark chocolate, grated or chopped into small pieces
1x Teaspoon of thyme
2x Bay leaves
1x Beef stock cube
2x Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
3x Tablespoons of brown sugar
1x French baguette
For the Stoofvlees:
1. Put the carrots, thyme, bay, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and chocolate in a stew pot.
2. Season the meat and brown off in batches in a frying pan, add to the stew pot when done.
3. Gentle fry the onions until translucent, add the 3 crushed garlic cloves for one minute then add to the stew.
4. Pour some of the beer into the frying and bring to the boil, crumble in the stock then add to the stew. Keep deglazing the pan until all of the beer is in the stew and give it a good mix.
5. Slice the baguette and slather one side of each with Dijon mustard. Place them mustard side down on top of the stew.
6. Cover the stew and place on the stove on the lowest heat setting possible and leave for a few hours. Occasional give it a stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and allow the soggy bread to disintegrate and thicken the sauce.
For the Chips:
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunky chips all the same length and thickness.
2. Parboil the chips for 10 minutes or as I do microwave on high for 7 minutes.
3. Plunge into cold water to cool and rinse the starch.
4. Dry the chips on kitchen paper and if you have a freezer pop them in there for an hour. If not just leave them out covered with kitchen roll.
5. Pour a good glug of oil in a roasting tin and put in the oven on gas 7
6. When the oil is very hot gently place the chips in then baste them and pop back in the oven on the top shelf.
7. Regularly turn the chip so all 4 sides brown as much as you like. We like our chips crunchy.
8. When done turn the oven down and move to bottom shelf if you're not quite ready to serve.
For the Endives:
1. Using 1 crushed clove of garlic mix it well with a big dollop of butter.
2. Slice the endives into quarters length-ways.
3. Put the garlic butter in a frying pan and gently saute the endives for about 5 minutes.
4. Season and serve.