Carbonnade of beef

Carbonnade of beef

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
1kg chuck steak
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions
1 garlic clove
1-2 thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons soft dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons plain flour
300ml guinness or other stout, or dark ale
300ml Brown chicken and veal stock
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons butter, softened and mixed with 2 teaspoons flour, if needed
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Trim any excess fat and sinew from the meat. Cut the meat into small, thick steaks, about 5–6 cm long and 2.5 cm thick.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown in batches, evenly all over; deglaze the pan with water between batches and start each batch with clean oil. Taste and keep the juices (déglaçage) if they don’t taste bitter. Transfer the browned meat to a flameproof casserole.
  3. Halve, peel and thinly slice the onions. Peel and crush the garlic and chop enough thyme leaves to give you a good pinch. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and sweat the onions slowly until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and allow the onions to caramelise until golden brown. Add the garlic and sugar and cook for 1 minute, then add the flour and cook for a further 1 minute.
  4. Heat the oven to 150ºC.
  5. Slowly add the ale to the pan, stirring to ensure no lumps are created. Add the stock, wine vinegar and déglaçage, if using, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme, bay leaf and nutmeg. Pour this over the browned beef in the casserole, cover and cook gently in the oven for 2½–3½ hours. Check from time to time to ensure the stew is not boiling too vigorously; it should be very gently simmering.
  6. When the meat is tender and can easily be cut with the side of a fork or spoon, remove from the oven and check the flavour and consistency of the sauce. If the flavour is a good concentration and the sauce is syrupy, then simply season to taste. If it is watery and thin, strain and return the sauce to the casserole, then reduce over a medium heat until it has a good concentration of flavour. If it has a good flavour but is too thin, thicken it with a little beurre manié (the butter and flour mixture), then season.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and return the meat and onions to the sauce, if necessary. Reheat gently before serving, with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable such as sprouting broccoli.


  • The bitterness of the Guinness works particularly well with the sweetness of the onions.


  • Beef braised in red wine: Replace the chuck steak with 4 thick slices of braising steak or flank of beef. Marinate overnight in 500 ml red wine, then strain, reserve the wine and use in place of the 300 ml ale or Guinness. Only use a pinch of sugar to taste and omit the nutmeg.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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