Carbonnade of Beef Braised in Beer
  • 1 beef rump roast, 2 to 2 1⁄2 pounds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups unsalted beef, veal, or poultry stock, or low-sodium canned beef broth
  • 12 ounces not very bitter ale
  • 1 tablespoon wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sugar to taste, if needed
Time Estimates

Prep time: 30 min  

Cook time: 3 hrs  

Total time: 3 hrs 30 min  


  1. Preheat the oven to 250˚F.
  2. Trim as much fat as possible from the roast and slice the meat across the grain into 1⁄4-inch slices. Season the slices well with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt if using canned broth).
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the meat, a few slices at a time, until nicely browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate as they are done.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low; if the meat has released a lot of liquid, let it cook until the skillet is nearly dry but not in danger of scorching. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and the onions and cook, stirring and turning with a long fork, until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  5. Push the onions to one side of the pan and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring and scraping the pan, until the flour mixture turns a medium brown; keep an eye on the onions so they do not burn.
  6. Add the stock, ale, vinegar, and accumulated juices from the meat plate to the pan and stir everything together.
  7. Bring to a simmer, cook until any lumps of roux are dissolved, and season to taste.
  8. Spoon a little of the sauce mixture into the bottom of a covered baking dish. Arrange the beef slices in the dish, then top with the onions and sauce, bay leaf and thyme.
  9. Cover and bake 2 hours. Taste the sauce for balance, and add a little sugar if the sauce is on the bitter side. If the meat is not yet fork-tender, continue baking for another 1⁄2 hour or so.
  10. Let the stew stand for a few minutes out of the oven, then skim off any excess fat around the edges. Or refrigerate it for up to several days and remove any hardened fat before reheating in a low oven.


Serves 6

The instructions here call for a heavy skillet for the stovetop cooking steps and another covered casserole dish for slow cooking in the oven. If you have a suitable covered pan that can go straight from the stovetop to the oven (an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, a deep, stainless-lined sauté pan or some type of flameproof earthenware), you can do everything in that one pan, nestling the browned beef slices into the sauce and onion mixture before baking.

Good to know

Probably the most famous dish cooked with beer is carbonnade flamande, beef slices stewed Flemish style in beer with an ample amount of sliced onions made sweet by slow braising. Just as coq au vin can be cooked with whatever wine is at hand, carbonnade can in theory be made in many different “flavors” by varying the beer. In northern France near the Belgian border, the beer is mainly reddish, fruity ale. At least one authentic Flemish version would be made with one of that region’s tart-flavored wheat beers, such as lambic or gueuze. In search of a West Coast version of this dish (carbonnade cascadienne?), I have made this dish with various West Coast beers, from hefeweizen (which makes a tasty but rather pale stew, especially with a little extra vinegar) to a brown ale like Lost Coast Downtown Brown (my favorite for both flavor and deep brown color) to porter and stout. Feel free to experiment, but watch out for highly hopped ales, or the stew can come out too bitter.

Which beer should I drink with this?

It’s hard to go wrong serving the same beer you cook with, but you can also serve something with more hop bitterness than would be good in the dish.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: Eva the Weaver/Flickr