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Carbonnades a la Flamande (Beef and Onions Braised in Beer)

3 pounds stew beef, cubed
6 cups sliced onions
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1 cup strong beef stock
2-3 cups Pilsner-type beer
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 springs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Make a herb bouquet by tying in cheesecloth the parsley, bay and thyme.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pour a layer of oil into a large heavy skillet. Heat oil until
almost smoking. Brown the beef cubes, taking care not to overcrowd
the pan. Set beef aside when browned.

Reduce heat to moderate. Stir the onions into the oil in the
skillet, adding more oil, if necessary. Cook onions for 10-15
minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and season with
salt and pepper. Add mashed garlic to cooked onions.

Arrange half the browned beef in a casserole which can be placed
on both a direct flame and in the oven. Season meat lightly with
salt and pepper. Spread half the onions over the beef. Repeat
with the remaining half of the beef and top with the remaining half
of the onions.

Pour any residual oil out of the pan used to brown the meat and
onions. Pour the stock into the pan. Heat the stock, scraping up
the coagulated meat juices from the browning step. Add the brown
sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour stock over the meat and onions
in the casserole. Add enough beer so the meat is barely covered.
Stick the herb bouquet into the casserole.

Bring casserole to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover the
casserole and place in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Check the
progress of the cooking and, if necessary, adjust the heat so the
liquid remains at a very slow simmer.

Remove the casserole from the oven and place on the stove top.
Remove herb bouquet. Combine the cornstarch and vinegar in saucepan
or measuring cup. Remove about 2 ladle-fulls of liquid from the
casserole and mix with cornstarch-vinegar mixture, blending well.
Pour this back into the beef casserole and stir to combine fully.
Allow the casserole to simmer an additional 3-4 minutes on a low
heat on top of the stove, or until thickened.

Serve with noodles or parsley potatoes.


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