Last night my dear Ghentlelady prepared her incredible Flemish favourite Stoofvlees (Gentse Stoverij), an incredible stewed meat based on dark trappist beer.
Unfortunately I was so overwhelmed by the culinary experience that I forgot to photograph the moment, however here is her recipe handed down from generation of beer-drinking-belgian to another so you can try it at home, should you have a ready supply of Rocheforte 10:
- Cut up a kilo of Chuck Casserole steak into nice big chunks
- Heat up a fry pan, and get it nice and hot!
- In a big pot, brown a nicely diced onion with some butter (don’t worry if you use too much- Flemish cooking is based on an abundance of butter!) and let it rest
- In the big hot fry pan, melt some butter (again ‘some’ might be a little subjective) and then cook the meat on high heat until it’s nice and crusty, whilst the meat is frying add some salt and pepper to the meat. You can do this before adding to the heat, but you know. It all ends up in the same pot.
- Add the meat to the big pot with the onion
- Add your trappist beer (preference is Chimay Blau, but any dark Belgian beer should be ok) to the pan (not the big pot! the pan!) and whisk the crusty crap from the meat together with the beer making a delightful trappist sauce. Don’t let the beer boil, otherwise you’ve wasted a fine fine brew.
- Place your trappist sauce into the big pot
- Add a few bay-leaves (three or four), thyme, and then the ultimate grandma secret: A piece of white bread smeared with Dijon mustard on both sides. This will add not only volume to your brewing stew, but also add a whole lot of awesome.
- Let the stoofvlees stew on low heat for a few hours, adding a little more water (or beer, though the flemish recommend drinking beer from here on) if the liquid gets low.
- According to legend, stoofvlees tastes better if you leave it to sit for a day, so once it’s cool, put the pot in the fridge and go eat some fries and a beer, or something.
- The next day, boil some patatoes, heat your stoofvlees, and eat like a king.
You may wish to get some more Belgian fries insted of the boiled potatoes, but that’s only if you live in Belgium – because you can not get good fries outside of the land of potato. This is just accepted fact.
Whilst served in most Flemish restauarants, you’ll rarely find two stoofvlees’ the same. Some add chocolate (Ghentlady opinion: This is just crazy), wine (destroys everything), sugar (far too sweet) or corn starch (makes sauce horrible). However in my seasoned opinion there is very little you can do to make beer + meat go wrong.
Next time you’re in the imported beer aisle, get a Chimay, Westmalle Dubbel or Rocheforte 10 (though possibly also a Leffe Bruin, but this is only if you are really desperate) and go get stewing.
Unless of course it’s Thursday, and you’re at home eating vegetarian the good ol’ fashioned Gent way!