Monday, February 24, 2014

Belgium: Vlaams Rundvlees en Bier Casserole "Beef and Beer Casserole"

image yanked from a google search page. without permission.
This weekend I went to Belgium! I was busy with a few other trips and projects... so for my culinary adventuring things were kept to a sweet slow and low style of cooking.  I love this style because one gets the opportunity to appreciate the meal on so many levels. First is the fresh ingredients phase... when you can notice and appreciate the high quality, colors, freshness and raw tang of the foods. Then as you begin chopping and throwing things into the crock pot or casserole dish a few more smells and tiny tastes get thrown into the air. By the time my casserole had been in the oven for a few hours you could smell it all the way down the block. As the boys were sure to tell me when they came back from their tennis show-down at the park. My favorite was our young friend Simon enthusiastically exclaiming, 'Smell that!!!" When he and Silas first walked into the house from outside. Best compliment of the evening. And there were many!

Belgian Beef and Beer Casserole with Belgian style beer!
Here are the basics of what I did so that you could try this for yourself sometime... I'm doing my best not to break copyrights with this book I am posting about so bear with me.

You will need:
A few pounds of quality beef. I used top shoulder think steaks.
A garnish of smoked ham. (I know, meat on meat! Don't you love it!?!)
A pound of thinly sliced onions
A heavy touch of your favorite saute oil... I went for lard. Goes well with the meat theme.
Few tablespoons of flour
Touch of herb... I used thyme.
Dash of Mollasses. (I swapped this for the sugar the origonal recipe called for)
A 12 oz beer.
few tablespoons of red wine vinegar

So basically saute your meat until it's just brown. Don't worry about cooking it through cause you're going to slow roast this lovely meat on meat mixture in your beer sauce. Set this aside and leave the juices in the pan. Saute your pound of thinly sliced onions until they are brown. Set this aside and get ready to ROUX. This was my first experience with a brown beer roux and I loved it so much I can't wait to try some more variations!! If you have a few tablespoons of oil and juices left... fantastic start with this... if not throw a little more oil or fat in the pan.. only a few tablespoons and try to deglaze  the meat and onion into the fat to help get that yummy brown flavor (and so that your pan doesn't start smoking!) add your flour and mix well. slowly add the beer. then the spices. a little bit of minced garlic is lovely as well. hold back the vinegar, that's for last. once the roux has boiled a bit and thickened then you're set to layer your meat and onions in a casserole (chose one with a lid to help keep the moisture in. a dutch oven would be perfect for this!) Once everything is in pour the beer roux over all and cover it with a lid and let it do it's thing in the oven at around 300 degrees for a few hours. When you just can't take it anymore... peel and boil some potatoes. I used golds with their wonderful buttery flavor. However, think that russets would go well with the meat theme as well. These are supposed to be peasant style, boiled and plain, a delicious preparation that I underestimated in the past. I like to have a green veggie represented on the plate of every dinner... this time we went with pan steamed kale and spinach. Once everything is set pull your casserole out of the oven and drizzle the vinegar over all and you are set to eat!

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