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Beef Carbonade

Beef Carbonade
Kevin D. Weeks for NPR

This savory stew suffers from a serious identity crisis. It's a Belgian dish, but carbonade is a Spanish word, not Flemish or French. To further complicate matters, carbonade means "grilled," but this is braised, meaning it's cooked in liquid over low heat. Despite the language issues, carbonade is one of the best beer-based recipes around. The Belgians know beer. If you can find it, use a good Belgian lambic beer. I like to lightly smash the potatoes when serving it, so they'll soak up the rich gravy.

Makes 8 servings

3 to 4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of external fat

Salt and pepper to taste

6 strips bacon

3 onions, diced

1 1/2 bottles beer (18 ounces)

1 cup beef stock

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut into -inch lengths

4 to 6 boiling potatoes (2-inch diameter), quartered

Heat oven to 275 degrees.

Liberally season brisket with salt and pepper. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, dice and reserve.

Brown brisket on all sides in bacon fat, then reserve on a plate.

Saute onions over medium heat in the Dutch oven until lightly browned. Add beer and deglaze pot.

Return brisket to pot along with beef stock, juniper berries, bay leaf, bacon and tomato paste. Cover and place in middle of oven. Cook 1 hour, then turn over brisket. Cook, covered, for another hour. Turn over brisket again, add carrots, potatoes and a bit of water if needed, so that vegetables are submerged. Cook 1 hour longer. Turn one last time and cook until potatoes are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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