Carbonnade, the Belgian beef stew with beer, was a big hit in the 1960’s. Back then, beef still tasted very beefy. Now meat with that deep, rich, flavor is hard to come by, but brisket always delivers. So I was especially pleased to find this slow-cooked recipe, with the brisket nestled into a blanket of beery onions with the inspired touches of balsamic vinegar and a bouillon cube. Make the carbonnade a day or two ahead, and it will taste even better. If you can find the thick end of the brisket (the nose, thick cut, or point) That end has a little more fat, so the meat will be more succulent. But if you are like me and the only brisket you could get is the more commonly available thin flat brisket, it is good here too.
Brisket a la Carbonnade
Adapted from 150 Best American Recipes
3-4 lb brisket
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds onions
1 bay leaf
12 ounce bottle of beer
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 beef bouillon cube crumbled
Preheat the oven o 350 degrees
Pat the brisket dry and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy oven proof pot over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Brown the meat well on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Add the onions and bay leaf to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer half the onions to a bowl. Set the brisket over the onions in the pot, then top with the remaining onions. Add the beer, vinegar, and bouillon cube. The liquid should come halfway up the side of the meat; if it doesn’t add water. Bring to a boil.
Cover the pot and braise in the oven until the meat is for tender, 3-4 hours. Let the meat cool in the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. skim off any fat from the sauce, remove the bay leaf . Slice across the grain and serve with the sauce.