Great beer deserves great food, so longtime food and beer writer (and author of The World Atlas of Beer) Stephen Beaumont took on the great and important task of gathering the greatest pairings around the world and publishing them in one convenient place: a beautifully photographed cookbook. Pick up a superb craft six-pack, bomber or growler and a copy of The Beer & Food Companion and prepare to leave the wineglasses where they are.
Since everyone knows that stews improve with age, Alain Fayt, chef and owner of Restobières in Brussels, Belgium, suggests making this a day ahead of when you plan to serve it, which would mean beginning the marinade two days in advance. He probably has a point.
Recommended beer: The presence of sweet and tart, spicy and savory flavor combinations in this dish calls for a beer with similar complexity. Here, try a Flemish red ale, the same beer style used in the cooking. (A Flemish brown would certainly do as well.)
- 5 1/2 pounds beef cheeks
- 4 11-ounce bottles Flemish red ale
- 1 bouquet garni (thyme, basil, rosemary and bay leaves tied in a bundle)
- 1 pound onions, chopped
- 1 quart veal stock
- 4 ounces vinegar
- 8 tablespoons mustard
- 3 1/2 ounces slice gingerbread, crumbled
For the carbonnade
The day before serving, cut the beef cheeks into pieces about 1½ inches square and place in a bowl along with three quarters of the beer — three out of four bottles — and the bouquet garni. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large pan, sauté the onions in oil or butter until brown, remove and set aside. In the same pan with a little more oil or butter, brown all the pieces of beef cheek until brown, working in batches so they do not get too crowded and begin to steam, rather than brown. Remove and set aside.
In a large casserole on a medium heat, add the beef, onions, veal stock, vinegar, mustard, gingerbread slices and the remaining bottle of beer. Stir until combined and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 90 minutes.