We had the opportunity to cook in Brussels as Loic and Katharina generously let us run free in their beautiful kitchen. We decided to make our version of a Belgian dish, Carbonade, which was actually created on the fly and not even a riff on a recipe we read so apologies to any Belgians readers out there!
We were told that Carbonade (in Dutch it’s Vlaamse Stoverij or Vlaamse stoofkarbonade, in Flemish it’s Stoofvlees) is a meat and beer stew, so we took that concept and finished our grocery shopping in record time – it helps when the local supermarket has amazing beer. We served this with our take on the fennel salad we had at Ferme Auberge, which was just as good as it was in France. Local fennel helped, I’m sure – it is an EU regulation that countries of origin must be noted on all produce sold – but really all we did was cut it up and add good olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Apparently Katharina grew up disliking fennel and we converted her over the course of dinner!
The name of our recipe is a salute to the Babelfish-translated menu we were presented with at Hotel Nazionale 1896 in Italy, specifically the dessert we had, “The pumpkin, the chestnut, the honey.” It was scrumptious and I wish we had room for “The milk of the milk.” Oh well, next time!
The lamb, the leek, the pumpkin, the beer
1 lb leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 lb pumpkin, peeled and cut
1 large leek, white part only, sliced
1.5 cups La Chouffe bruin (the label is in the banner above)
3-4 T flour
Roll up your sleeves and beat together the egg and flour, then coat the chunks of lamb with this thick mixture. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a dutch oven and brown the lamb, which takes roughly 5 minutes. Remove the lamb from the pot. Add a bit more butter, then toss in the leeks and stir them around for a few minutes. Add your pumpkin pieces and the lamb and stir together before adding the beer and an equal amount of water. Bring to a boil before reducing heat to medium-low. Check the consistency of the meat in 30 minutes, it should be tender but if not, let it go for another 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and serve with your choice of carb; rice worked well for us in sopping up the Carbonade sauce and giving me a much-needed Asian ingredient fix.