Flemish carbonnade (also called stoofvlees) is a traditional Belgian beer and beef stew, flavoured with thyme and bayleaf. To this day, Flemish carbonnade is a very firm favourite in the Belgian kitchen and it can be found in almost every restaurant and chippy. The chippy in Belgium is quite different to the one known in England as they hardly ever serve fish . Instead they serve a large variety of meats and Flemish carbonnade fits right in. The combination of Flemish carbonnade and chips is as common in Belgium as the Fish and Chips in England.


  • 1 kg stewing beef, cut into equal bitesize piecesIngredients Flemish CarbonnadeCredit: Romary
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 onions
  • 1 bayleaf
  • thyme
  • 1 clove
  • pepper and salt
  • 1 slice of white bread
  • strong musterd, preferably French Dijon mustard
  • 2 dl water
  • 2 dl beer

For Flemish Carbonnade, the beer should ideally be a dark abbey beer such as St Bernardus or Chimey Blue. However, if you can't find these any dark beer will do. Guinness or Newcastle Brown Ale may for example be a suitable alternatives. Be sure to use a dark beer though as it really enhances the flavour.


  1. Chop the onions and cook them in a large cooking pot with the butter until translucent. At this stage they should not be browned and caramelised as this will make them go burnt later on.
  2. Add the meat to the pot and seal the meat.
  3. Add the bayleaf, thyme and clove and season with pepper and salt.
  4. Add the water and the beer and 1 tsp of mustard.
  5. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot and cook on a very low heat for 1 hour.
  6. Spread mustard on the slice of bread and place the bread on top of the stew. The bread will help thicken the stew.
  7. Allow to cook without the lid until the meat is just falling apart and the sauce is nice and thick. Be careful that the stew doesn't burn. If the meat starts to catch on the bottom, simply add a little water.
  8. Serve with chips or mash and a salad on the side.

Hints and tips

  • Flemish carbonnade can easily be made in a slow cooker.
  • This Flemish beef stew recipe can easily be adapted to be made in a pressure cooker. Follow the recipe instructions but add the beer and mustard once the meat has been browned. Do not add the bread. Tighten the lid and cook for about 20 minutes. Then thicken the gravy with cornstarch which has been mixed in a little cold water. Let boil until thickened and serve.
  • A spoonful of natural vinegar can be added to speed up the tenderising of the meat.
  • 1/4 before the end of cooking, a handful of soaked raisins or prunes can be added to the meat. This is not so common in Belgium but is done in some area's of the country.

This recipe has been in my family for generations and it's a firm favourite in my family. I do hope you'll give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do.

Flemish Carbonnade: The Traditional Belgian Beef And Beer StewCredit: Jiel Beaumadier