One of my favorite memories while living in Ghent was trying stoverij for the very first time. It was freezing outside, much like it was today, and the stew warmed me down to my core. When I came back to the States, though, I couldn’t find a substitute for it and online, there really aren’t too many resources. Luckily enough, Olivier’s mother (who is Flemish) dug up a recipe his grandmother had hand-written ages ago, and she was kind enough to share it with us.
Stoverij, or carbonade flamande in French, is a Belgian beef stew made with beer and is commonly eaten with fries or potatoes. My personal favorite? Double fried Belgian fries with a bit of mayonnaise. You really can’t beat the crunch. Another great combination I had in Belgium was when it was served over a piece of toast with mustard. It gives it an extra kick of flavor, and I’ve known people to even add a piece of bread to the stew while it’s cooking as well. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
The recipe itself isn’t complex, but takes two hours to cook through, so be aware if you decide to try this out.
A mix of oil and butter to coat your pan so you can brown the meat
Beef stew meat, about 1.8 pounds (between 800 grams and 1 kilo for four servings)
Two bottles of St. Bernardus Abt 12, or your favorite dark Belgian beer. You will need 1 and a half bottles, or 1/2 a litre
1 tablespoon of flour
4 small yellow onions or two large yellow onions, cut into thin half circle slices
1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and a few sprigs of parsley, tied into a bouquet garni
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven on the stove top at high and add your beef to brown it on all sides. Once your beef is browned, add your onions and cook until they’re translucent. Do not brown the onions! Turn the heat down if you have to.
Once your onions have cooked, take a spoonful of flour and stir it into the mix. This will make the onions stick to the meat and will thicken your mixture. Next, add your bouquet garni to the mix as well as your salt and pepper.
Pour in your beer into your mix and bring to boil. Once your stew is boiling, bring it down to medium heat and let simmer for 2 hours. Serve with french fries and a bit of mayonnaise and enjoy!