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Flemish carbonnade

That's it, winter is here, the snow is coming fast... It's time to be greedy, so in our pots and pans, good hot, saucy and comforting dishes await us... And among them, let's take an interest in the traditional and succulent Flemish carbonnade !

The typical dish of Northern France

Originally from Belgium, hence its name, this dish is mainly made of beef marinated in beer. Invented by the workers of the coal mines, originally they grilled their leftover meat with coal, which gave the term carbonnade. Today the recipe has nothing to do with the charbonnée of yesteryear, it could rather be compared to the Boeuf Bourguignon but with beer, the Ch'tis having passed through there...

Let's go back to our recipe. The meat cut into pieces is then browned in fat with the onions previously caramelized. The whole thing is then simmered in the beer and gingerbread, to reveal to us a delicious melting and flavoured plate with the sweet-spicy taste of the bread, which will then give a slightly sweet touch, creating a surprising balance! The ideal for this dish is to prepare it the day before; "it's even better reheated" we'll say our little grandmothers, and of course accompanied by good Belgian fries golden in beef fat (um... the fat, what do we love!).

If you're on a diet, a nice little homemade mashed potatoes will do. For the tasting of this traditional dish, don't forget the local drink of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a small beer! And if you are passing through the North of France, do not hesitate to taste this delicious and surprising carbonation in the typical restaurants of old Lille. You will give me some news....

The recipe of the Flemish Carbonnade

Ingredients for 4/5 people:

  • 1 kg braised beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 30g butter
  • 2 onions
  • 75 cl dark beer
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or 2 speculoos)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 slices gingerbread topped with mustard
  • a pinch of salt and pepper


  • Step 1: Cut the meat into pieces. In a casserole dish, fry it with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. It doesn't have to be cooked entirely, you just have to brown it.
  • Step 2: Remove the meat from the casserole and melt the butter.
  • Step 3: Add the sliced onions. When coloured, add the brown sugar (or speculoos) and season with salt and pepper. You can add a glass of water. Once the water has evaporated, add the meat and its juices with a tablespoon of flour.
  • Step 4: Add enough beer in order to cover the meat
  • Step 5: Prepare the gingerbread and add it to the casserole, then bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and simmer, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes.

Note that, to perfect this already very tasty recipe, you can buy a Kampot pepper. Reputed to be the best pepper in the world, it will bring a delicious final touch to this dish requiring about 4 hours of cooking if you plan to enjoy it the same day. It is however advised to prepare it the day before because it is better reheated, in this case 2h30 of cooking are enough.

Treat yourself !

Do you want to discover other northern specialities? These stories may interest you:

Claire from Comme des Français