Beef carbonnade

Tough cut, tender result

Originally appeared in the December 16, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

There are several magical features about the science of braising.  One reason is the season:  This is a perfect time for heavy meat dishes served with starchy sides.  Two:  Pacing—there’s nothing quite like the cadence of a leisurely culinary execution.  And the third element is what I’ll call the “underdog” factor.  Check out more after the break:What I mean is that braising is utilized to break-down connective tissues in texturally-tougher cuts of meat—not your pricier filets and New York strips, rather it’s typically, something humble:  flatiron, shank, and chuck.  Plus, these underdog cuts are more cost effective, allowing you to make more people happy for less.

Now (switching to my stuffy, didactic voice), braising and stewing are technically combination cooking methods, meaning they use both dry-heat and moist-heat applications, followed by conduction and convection, to achieve a desired result.

This beef carbonnade recipe will remind you of a velvety stew, with sweet-and-sour notes of onion soup, and a hearty nod to the classic stroganoff.  Buttered egg noodles (pictured), mashed potatoes, or toasted baguette are perfect accompaniments.  You’ll find that, properly done, braising isn’t just science or magic, but a perfect combination of the two.

Beef carbonnade

Serves 5 – 6

  • 3 ½ pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • As needed vegetable oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced to ¼-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup beef stock
  • 12-ounce bottle or can of beer
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied into a bundle with twine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1.  In oven, adjust rack to accommodate a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven.  Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Meanwhile, season chunked beef.  Heat pot to medium-high, add a bit of oil, wait till heated, then add 1/3 of the meat; brown on all sides before removing from pot and placing in a bowl.  Repeat process for remaining meat (add more oil if needed).

2.  Add onion and tomato paste, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and caramelizing onions (about 15 minutes).  Add garlic, cook until fragrant.  Add flour and stir until incorporated.  Add stocks, scraping the bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon, loosening and dissolving the brown bits (called “fond”); stir in beef, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar, browned beef along with juices.  Re-season with salt and pepper.

3.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Partially cover Dutch oven with aluminum foil and place in oven.  Cook for two hours.  Remove form oven, uncover and discard thyme and bay leaf.  Re-season if needed and serve.

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Published in: on December 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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