youtube pinterest twitter facebook instagram vimeo Bookmark Entries BURGER NEW Chevron Down Chevron Left Chevron Right Basket Speech Comment Search Video Play Icon Premium Nigella Lawson Vegan Vegetarian Member Speech Recipe Bookmark Comment Camera Scales Quantity List Reorder Remove Open book
Menu Signed In
More Nigella recipes

Carbonnade a La Flamande

by . Featured in KITCHEN
Print me

Introduction

There is something about cooking the classics that feels like coming home and this comforting Belgian casserole is a reassuringly simple recipe – I scarcely bother to sear the meat – that feeds a huge tableful of people cosily. And – always music to my ears – it is at its best if cooked ahead, cooled and then refrigerated before being reheated.

A final note: it is the shin of beef that makes this stew so sweetly succulent; by all means substitute regular stewing beef, if you must, but it will never cook to the melting softness of shin.

There is something about cooking the classics that feels like coming home and this comforting Belgian casserole is a reassuringly simple recipe – I scarcely bother to sear the meat – that feeds a huge tableful of people cosily. And – always music to my ears – it is at its best if cooked ahead, cooled and then refrigerated before being reheated.

A final note: it is the shin of beef that makes this stew so sweetly succulent; by all means substitute regular stewing beef, if you must, but it will never cook to the melting softness of shin.

Carbonnade a La Flamande
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 8

Metric Cups
  • 1 tablespoon goose fat (or oil of your choice)
  • 250 grams smoked lardons or 16 slices smoked bacon, snipped into strips
  • 4 onions (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1½ kilograms shin of beef (in approx. 4-5 cm cubes)
  • 50 grams plain flour
  • 625 millilitres beef stock (cube or concentrate is fine)
  • 4 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
  • 625 millilitres dark belgian beer (or other dark ale)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or half teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon goose fat (or oil of your choice)
  • 8 ounces smoked lardons or 16 slices smoked bacon, snipped into strips
  • 4 onions (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3¼ pounds beef shank (in approx. 4-5 cm cubes)
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2⅔ cups beef broth (cube or concentrate is fine)
  • 4 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
  • 2⅔ cups dark belgian beer (or other dark ale)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 1 pinch of black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas mark 2.
  2. Get out a large, heavy-bottomed casserole and, on the hob over a medium to high heat, melt 1 tablespoon fat, or warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add the lardons and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–10 minutes, till they’ve crisped up a bit.
  3. Add the chopped onion, stirring well so that they’re mixed into the bits of bacon, and turn down the heat to low and cook – stirring every now and again – for 10 minutes, by which time the onions will have softened.
  4. Stir in the allspice and thyme and then tumble in the cubed shin of beef and, for ease, with a pair of spatulas or suchlike, toss and turn the meat in the pan.
  5. Shake in the flour and stir to mix as best you can.
  6. Pour the stock into a large jug and stir in the mustard and sugar and then add the beer (if it will fit) before pouring this over the stew in the pan. Stir to mix then leave to come to the boil, add the bay leaves and salt and a good grinding of pepper, then clamp on the lid and stagger to the oven with the heavy pan.
  7. Cook gently for 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender, and – if you can bear it – let it cool, uncovered, before covering and refrigerating, then leaving it to bring joy to another day. Still, it’s fabulous enough the day it’s cooked and patience is an overrated virtue.
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas mark 2.
  2. Get out a large, heavy-bottomed casserole and, on the hob over a medium to high heat, melt 1 tablespoon fat, or warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add the lardons and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–10 minutes, till they’ve crisped up a bit.
  3. Add the chopped onion, stirring well so that they’re mixed into the bits of bacon, and turn down the heat to low and cook – stirring every now and again – for 10 minutes, by which time the onions will have softened.
  4. Stir in the allspice and thyme and then tumble in the cubed beef shank and, for ease, with a pair of spatulas or suchlike, toss and turn the meat in the pan.
  5. Shake in the flour and stir to mix as best you can.
  6. Pour the stock into a large jug and stir in the mustard and sugar and then add the beer (if it will fit) before pouring this over the stew in the pan. Stir to mix then leave to come to the boil, add the bay leaves and salt and a good grinding of pepper, then clamp on the lid and stagger to the oven with the heavy pan.
  7. Cook gently for 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender, and – if you can bear it – let it cool, uncovered, before covering and refrigerating, then leaving it to bring joy to another day. Still, it’s fabulous enough the day it’s cooked and patience is an overrated virtue.

Additional Information

The stew can be made up to 2 days ahead. Transfer to non-metallic bowl to cool. Cover and refrigerate as soon as possible. To reheat, put stew back in casserole dish and reheat very gently on the stove, until piping hot; or reheat in oven at 150ºC/gas mark 2 for 1 hour, until piping hot.

The cooled stew can be frozen, in airtight container, for up to 3 months (and you can freeze in smaller portions for weekday suppers). Defrost overnight in fridge and reheat as above.

The stew can be made up to 2 days ahead. Transfer to non-metallic bowl to cool. Cover and refrigerate as soon as possible. To reheat, put stew back in casserole dish and reheat very gently on the stove, until piping hot; or reheat in oven at 150ºC/gas mark 2 for 1 hour, until piping hot.

The cooled stew can be frozen, in airtight container, for up to 3 months (and you can freeze in smaller portions for weekday suppers). Defrost overnight in fridge and reheat as above.

Tell us what you think

What 11 Others have said

  • Made it but the liquid was too much! I had to add thickner to get it much useable gravy. The stew otherwise was fantastic! Thanks.

    Posted by Magician176 on 28th May 2016
  • Lovely and rich. Making it again for visitors on Saturday.

    Posted by on 31st December 2015
  • Made this on Friday for a dinner party on Saturday. Couldn't get shin from our butcher but they recommended chuck, apart from that I followed the recipe exactly and, WOW, absolutely delicious. Accompanied it with a root mash of potato, sweet potato and butternut squash and steamed veg. For pudding I made Nigella's choc-chip bread pudding - this gets another WOW. Thank you soooo much Nigella!

    Posted by SueBro on 5th August 2015
  • I have made this multiple times for a crowd. I paired it with a double mash of yam and regular potatoes (a Nigella idea) and it is divine! A huge hit, it is now known as "magic beef" in to our family and friends. I invite a crowd over just so I can make it! Thank you!

    Posted by akaz on 13th June 2014
  • I always put large baked croutons with grated Gruyere cheese on top of the stew and then put it under the grill. According to Belgian friends, this is often done in Belgium.

    Posted by chrisowen on 17th March 2014
  • This is a true Belgian classic. What works very well, is to cover a slice of (slightly stale) bread with the mustard and put this on top (mustard side down). As it sucks up the stock and 'melts' in, it also works a binding agent for your sauce.

    Posted by TineB on 23rd March 2014
  • To raise the sweetness of this recipe, this is how I use the mustard: I generously spread it over a medium thick gingerbread slice (one per person), then I gently place the "toast" (mustard side facing up) on top of the other ingredients. While cooking, the gingerbread will melt and the mustard/sugar flavors will slowly spread. Do not mix the ingrediants in the casserole until the "mustard toast" has completely melted (cooking on a low heat is required!).

    Posted by Danny_FR on 9th March 2014
  • Made this last night to eat tonight (with homemade parpadelle). Went easy on the dried thyme, added a pinch of ground clove, I Tbsp treacle and a roughly chopped leek to balance. It was absolutely delish! Reminds me of a Dutch stew we make using a slice of spice cake (ontbijtkoek) to simmer with and thicken the stew. :D

    Posted by Anita Elaine on 21st January 2014
  • Delicious. Will definitely make again.

    Posted by ciaranic on 30th April 2013
  • So, so delicious. I've just made this for the second time, think I'm already addicted to the smell of thyme, beer and mustard.

    Posted by nikodownie on 8th April 2013
  • As being flemisch and this dish we love I also put a big tablespoon of ketchup in it tastes good 2 ;)

    Posted by Patrik&Marleen on 5th February 2013
Show more comments