Finally the weather has turned cold enough to crack open some of the big Belgian Trappist ales I have had sitting in the fridge for a while – not to drink mind you but to cook with!
Well okay, yes I drink them too, any time of the year they are such great beers but a casserole in the middle of summer just doesn’t appeal as much as it does in the middle of winter.
When I originally wrote this recipe for my cook book in 2010 there were only 7 Trappist breweries operating in the world: Chimay, Orval, Westmalle, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Koningshoeven and Achel. Nowadays there are actually 11 – see the Wikipedia link in the comments section below for all of the Trappist breweries.
I love the Trappist beers as they are big malty, musty and yeasty with lots of character, nuance, flavour and alcohol which means they are perfect for cooking with, especially in dishes like this Bourguignon.
Chimay Blue is one of my all-time favourite beers and works brilliantly in this dish, as does the Red. The White, however, tends to be a little bitter when you cook with it, so I normally don’t.
1 kilo stewing beef – cut into large chunks say 4cm by 4 cm
1 leek – cleaned and finely chopped white part only
2 sticks of celery – cleaned and diced
100g of hot pancetta – diced
9 small/baby onions – peeled
7 cloves of garlic peeled
3 medium sized carrot – peeled and cut on the diagonal1 cm thick
1 tablespoons plain flour
3 tablespoons of Madeira – fortified Portuguese style wine
1 bunch of Fresh Lemon thyme
3 fresh bay leaves
2 x 330 mil bottles of Chimay Red
250 mils of beef stock
3 pieces of orange rind – no pith
½ cup crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
300 grams Green beans – topped and tailed
8 Swiss Brown mushrooms – wiped clean and quartered
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
In a tall casserole pot add three tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat then add the chopped leek and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the celery and the pancetta and cook for another 5 minutes then remove from the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown half the beef over high heat until well coloured. Whilst the beef is browning shake the bunch of Thyme over the pan so that about a pinch of leaves fall in the pan.
When browned remove from pan and put on a plate that has some paper towels on it so as to soak up any excess oil. Brown the rest of the beef again adding thyme and when done put on the plate with the rest of the beef. Return the pan to the heat and turn to medium high, add the baby onion and the garlic and stir around the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until coloured and the fragrance fills the air. Add the Madeira and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze and loosen all the sticky bits.
Add the beef back in and then 1 tablespoon of plain flour. Give it all a good mix then add in the leek, celery, pancetta mix and the carrots and stir through. Still over a medium high heat add the Chimay Ale and the beef stock and stir until it comes to the boil. Add the orange rind, bay leaves, tomatoes, a good pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper stir and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, lid off, for another 20 and then add the beans and cook for another ten minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through ¼ cup of chopped parsley.
Serve with some boiled baby potatoes or some creamy mashed potatoes.