Brace yourself for an explosion of flavors that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight – Stoofvlees - a Flemish beef stew is here to take your culinary journey to new heights!
My version of this traditional Belgian dish is not for the faint-hearted; it demands attention and appreciation for its robustness and complexity. Picture succulent pieces of beef slow-cooked in a velvety sauce that boasts layers upon layers of umami goodness.
Whether you're seeking comfort on a rainy day or looking to impress your dinner guests with something out-of-the-ordinary, prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience as we delve into the world of Stoofvlees.
I have a very good friend who grew up in Belgium. He has made this traditional Belgian beef stew on several occasions. He always brings it to my annual whiskey-tasting party. I actually think some of my quests come for the stew more than the whiskey!
So this is my homage to his culinary masterpiece. Now, to make this traditional Flemish stew, there are a few ingredients that will be hard to get a hold of here in the States. So, in my version here, I have created a delicious version that can be achieved by using only some household staples.
Ingredients for Stoofvlees Recipe
Beef - You want small cubes of beef. You can sometimes buy pre-cubed stew meat. I like to use a chuck roast and then I cut it into 1.5-inch cubes. Chuck roast had a great many versatile uses.
Onions - These are going to add a ton of flavor to the Stoofvlees. Dice up a couple of large onions. As the stew cooks, these are going to fall apart into nothing but leave a deep flavor.
Garlic - I love to cook with garlic, so even my Flemish Beef Stew will get some. I use minced fresh garlic as well as garlic powder for the flour coating of the beef.
Rosemary - Rosemary is a perfect pairing with beef. I like to use fresh, but you can also use dried rosemary leaves if that is what you have. If you don't have rosemary, no worries! You can swap a couple of sprigs of thyme in place of the rosemary.
Bay Leaves - Cooking with bay leaves is like adding a special secret ingredient to make your food taste better. They have a special smell and flavor that can make soups, stews, and sauces taste really delicious and as the dish simmers, those flavors are slowly drawn into the stew.
Salt and Black Pepper - We are going to use salt and pepper in the flour mixture to season the beef. Then we will also use it at the end to make sure your stew has the perfect level of seasoning.
Flour - The flour is used to give the beef a seasoned coating when we quickly sear it. The small bits of flour also serve to thicken the stew as it cooks.
Ale - You want to use a nice full-bodied malty ale. I use Westmallen Tripel Ale. But you can even use an American Malty dark beer if you don't have Belgian Ale in your cupboard.
Beef Stock - You can use fresh stock or bullion powder.
How to make this Stoofvlees Recipe
Step One - Cut the beef into 1.5-inch cubes.
Step Two - Add the garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the flour. Mix well. Then toss the beef cubes into the flour mixture until each one is lightly covered.
Step Three - Over medium heat, heat up a stock pot or Dutch oven. I like to use a large Dutch oven to make this dish. I find they have a good distribution of heat, for cooking a large stew for a long period of time.
Drizzle a tablespoon of oil in the pot to keep the beef from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Turn them to sear each side. Once all the beef is seared, remove the beef from the pot and put them into a large bowl to rest.
Step Four - Next, add the chopped onions and garlic to the pot. Give them a good stir as they begin to soften and caramelize. Turn the burner to low heat. Deglaze the pan with the beef stock. Gently use a spatula to loosen all the brown pits from the bottom of the pot.
Step Five - Then add the beef cubes back to the pot. Also add the beer, rosemary, and bay leaves. Give it a good stir and then cover and cook on low heat for about 4 hours. Give the stew a quick stir every 30 minutes or so.
How to tell when beef stew is done?
You can tell the stew is done, when the beef cubes easily fall apart. You can test this one of two ways, the first is my favorite. Taste one. If it falls apart as you chew it, it is done. You can also test it by pressing a cube against the inside of the pot with your spoon. The meat will fall apart. Then you know it is done.
Step Six - Thicken the stew. Once the beef is done, continue to cook the stew but remove the lid. This will allow the stew liquid to reduce. If it is not reduced to a thick liquid in 30 minutes, you can use a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it. Just mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a ¼ cup of cold water. Mix it together with a small whisk or a fork, then add it to the stew. Give it a good stir. The stew will thicken up in three to five minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and you are ready to serve and enjoy!
My favorite way to serve Stoofvlees is over French Fries. It reminds me a bit of a good French poutine. If you don't have fries, just serve it straight up. Either way, I recommend having some nice brown bread or baguette on hand. Use a slice of bread to mop up and enjoy all that intensely flavored stew broth. It is so good!
I love a dollop of real mayo served on top of the stew. It adds tangy creaminess to the stoofvlees recipe. It is so good!
What to serve with Stoofvlees?
- 2 lb beef chuck roast chunks / cubed
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2.5 cups beer
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon rosemary
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Mix the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a wide mixing dish.
- Dredge the cubed beef in the flour mixture.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Then add the dredged beef cubes in a single layer. Quickly sear each side of the beef cubes. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pot.
- Remove the beef from the pot and set them in a bowl.
- After the beef is all seared and removed from the Dutch oven, put the heat down to medium-low. Add the onions and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions start sweating and caramelizing.
- Then deglaze the pot with beef broth. Add the beef back to the pot, along with the ale, rosemary, and bay leaves.
- Cover the Dutch oven and let it simmer on low heat for about four hours. Stir the stew every 30 minutes or so. The beef is done when the cubes easily fall apart when pressed with a spoon.
- Once the beef is done, uncover the Dutch oven and cook uncovered on low for 30 minutes. If the stew doesn't have a thick consistency. Mix cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water in a small bowl. Then add to the Dutch oven and cook for another five minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over french fries. Enjoy!