This is not your grandma's beef stew (unless you're Flemish).
Versions of this article originally appeared in Honest Cooking and Belgian Beer & Food.
Cooking with beer is fairly new as a culinary trend in the United States. But brew-inspired food is nothing new in Belgium. Stoverij, also known as stoofvlees or carbonade flamande, is a traditional beef stew from Flanders that derives its rich flavor from being slow cooked in beer. Stoverij is Flemish comfort food at its best. If you visit a frietkot (fry stand) in Flanders, you can order a side of stoverij to go along with your fries.
While stoverij recipes have the same basic ingredients, this one is inspired by Aba-Jour, a Ghent establishment known for its bountiful beer selection. Their stoverij is the best I’ve had. It stands apart because, rather than using just one type of beer, it contains a combination of sweet and sour beers, which gives the stew a deliciously complex taste. They use Rodenbach, a tart Flanders red, and Westmalle Dubbel, a rich and malty Trappist brew. If you can’t find Rodenbach, another sour Flanders red or brown ale will do. The Duchesse De Bourgogne or Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale are good potential alternatives.
Boiled or mashed potatoes pair well with the dish, but if you’re feeling especially indulgent, hand-cut Belgian fries (the secret is to fry them twice) and mayonnaise are the perfect decadent complement to stoverij.
Servings: 4 (be sure to double the recipe if you want leftovers!)
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Cook's Note: If you like a thicker, gravy-like broth, you can try a trick used by some traditional stoverij recipes. Spread mustard over a couple of pieces of whole wheat (brown) bread or peperkoek (gingerbread) and place them mustard side down on top of the dish as you start it simmering. The bread will break down while the stew cooks and help thicken it.
Suggested Beer Pairing: Be sure to save the extra dubbel or sour ale for pairing with this meal!
Food Loves Beer taste tested and recommended!