I guess stewy beef is my new obsession.
I blame the weather. Brisk days with drizzly rain and falling leaves calls for this kind of comfort food, am I right, or am I right?
I mean, I know that I just made you guys beef bourguignon last week, and this looks pretty similar, but I swear it’s different! Instead of braising the meat in red wine, I opted for a pumpkin porter. Plus, it’s chock full of butternut squash.
Annnd, while the beef bourguignon is probably one of the best things I have ever tasted…I might like this better.
A big part of that is these fries. Can we just talk about how perfect they are? Like…I actually didn’t know it was possible to make fries like these at home, and yet, it happened and it’s The Best Thing, Ever.
They’re crisp and golden on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, and sprinkled with the most delicious herb salt.
You know what makes them even better? Using them to sop up the sauce.
This is actually based on a traditional Belgian recipe called “Carbonade flamande.” It’s a beef and onion stew that has been braised in beer, and is often served with french fries.
I doubt it’s ever really made with pumpkin beer, but you are all very acutely aware of my unreasonable obsession, by now, haha. The butternut squash definitely isn’t traditional, either, but I was keeping with the whole “pumpkin” theme. It gets deliciously soft and unctuous in the stew.
Oh, and as for the fries, I finally broke out my surprisingly freakin’ awesome mini deep fryer to make them (like…it’s been in the pantry for 6+ years and it’s only seeing the light of day now…), but you can just use a pot on the stove and a good candy/frying thermometer.
Also, I fried my fries in a mixture of vegetable oil and duck fat, but if you can get your hands on enough of it, I’d suggest using all duck fat. I definitely would have used 100% duck fat if I had enough on hand. It makes all the difference—just trust me (and may I present the smashed new potatoes in this post as evidence!).
Yield: at least 6 servings of stew (4 servings fries)
for the stew:
- 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 lbs beef for stew (This will usually be sold in chunks in the meat department; if it's not, cut your meat into about 2-inch chunks. The cuts you're looking for are: rump, chuck, sirloin tip, top round, or bottom round.)
- 2 large red onions, sliced
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, insides scooped out, and cubed
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup beef stock
- about 24 fl. oz pumpkin beer (I used two 12 fl. oz bottles of this)
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- sprig of fresh rosemary
- a few sprigs fresh thyme
- sprig of fresh bay leaves
- sprig of fresh sage leaves
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- parsley, to garnish
for the fries:
- 2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled
- desired cooking oil (I recommend duck fat)
- kosher salt
- fresh parsley, fresh thyme (or any herbs you want)
for the stew:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Add 2 to 3 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat over high heat. Brown the beef chunks in batches, and set them aside.
- Add in another tablespoon of oil, and reduce the heat to medium. Add in the onions, and brown for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the squash and garlic, and mix.
- Layer half of the beef in the bottom of an enamel dutch oven of casserole dish (with a lid), then add half of the veggies, followed by the rest of the beef, and the rest of the veggies, seasoning with salt and pepper as you layer.
- Heat the pan you used to brown the meat and vegging over medium high heat. Deglaze it with the beef stock, and scrape up any browned bits. Pour it into the beef and veggies, followed by the beer and brown sugar.
- With baking twine, tie together the fresh herb sprigs, and add that into the pot as well. Place the lid on and put in the oven (you may want to add a baking sheet on the rack underneath just incase anything bubbles out). Cook for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Remove the herb bundle. Carefully pour the liquid out of the pot and into a skillet (don't worry about getting every last drop). Skim any fat off the top, and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and vinegar, and add it into the warmed liquid. Simmer for a few minutes, then pour it back over the beef.
for the fries:
- With either a mandolin, or a knife, carefully slice the potatoes into fries (if you're using a knife, cut the potatoes into slices and then cut into fries).
- Place the potatoes into a bowl of water, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Completely dry the potatoes with a dish cloth or paper towel. Heat the oil to somewhere around 315 degrees. Blanch the potatoes in batches, for 7 minutes, at a time. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Turn off the oil. Allow the fries to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Reheat the oil to 375 degrees. Fry the fries in batches, for 5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
- Immediately toss with a good pinch of salt and finely diced herbs, and serve. (I like to use a 3:2 ratio of salt to herbs.)
stew adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking