A bottle of dark ale is the secret to this Belgian classic. All you need to accompany the stew is a crisp green salad and a bottle of wine (or beer). BELGIAN BEEF AND BEER STEW
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 t coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 t vegetable oil
3 yellow onions (about 2 pounds), cut into halves and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 T all-purpose flour
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark ale (Belgian ale is best)
3 large thyme sprigs
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T red currant jelly
1 t cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Pat beef dry with paper towels; season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 t oil and a third of the beef. Sear 2 minutes on each side, or until well browned; transfer to a large Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining beef, using 2 t oil per batch.
Add remaining 2 t oil to saute pan; reduce heat to medium. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Uncover and saute until onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and toss with onions 1 minute. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Pour in broth; increase heat to a simmer. Transfer contents of pan to Dutch oven, scraping bits from bottom of pan; add ale and thyme. Bring to a simmer, stir well, cover and transfer to oven. Cook until beef is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Stir in mustard, jelly and vinegar; let cool completely and refrigerate. (The stew is best made ahead 1 or 2 days, and gently reheated). Serves 6.
Per serving: 434 calories, 24 g fat, 63mg cholesterol, 34 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 703 mg sodium.
Recipe by Laraine Perri, a food writer in New York City