Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vlaamse Stoverij met Westmalle Tripel

Yesterday I cooked Vlaamse Stoverij again. It's been quite some time since I last cooked this dish, as our little boy has been eating dinner together with us since he started on solid foods and I have to be careful with cooking dishes that contain spices or alcohol, just in case he has any allergies that we are not aware of.

I remembered the last time I cooked this beef stew, I used Maredsous Tripel. And my hubby was complaining then, that we should support the local economy and the local trappist beer. So this time round, I am using a trappist beer called Westmalle Tripel, which always stands in a big crate of 24 in our garage. We live quite near the Trappist Abbey and Cafe Trappisten in Westmalle, so whoever visits our humble abode will invariably be served a glass of Westmalle Tripel or Dubbel, to support the local economy. ;)

Flemish Beef Stew or Vlaamse Stoverij (also called Stoofvlees or Vlaamsekarbonade in Flanders and Carbonade Flamande in Wallonia) is really a traditional yet simple flemish cuisine which you hardly get to eat outside Belgium. It is not difficult after all, the basic ingredients are just beef, beer, onions, salt, pepper, thyme, laurier leaves. Honestly what makes flemish beef stew so special, is the beer! SOS Piet Huysentruyt's recipe uses Grimbergen and Rodenbach, but my recipe from Ruth Van Waerebeek uses a Westmalle Tripel, plus some cider vinegar and rode bessengelei to mask the bitter taste of the Westmalle Tripel beer. In effect it achieves the same results as adding Rodenbach which is a bit sweet in nature.

I also added some chopped carrots and beans on top to serve as vegetables, but this is rarely done in restaurants (see here). I have checked a few recipes here and there, and confirm that the basic steps and ingredients are more or less the same as those in my previous recipe.

Now, if you live outside Belgium and don't have access to good belgian beer, what would be the alternative then? I would really like to hear from folks who use other beers to make this beef stew. I can imagine readers from Singapore or Malaysia using the most commonly-found beers such as Tiger, Anchor, ABC, Heineken, Carlsberg, or even Guiness Stout. Honestly speaking, draft beers and stout beers are not ideal, you have to use a brown ale or strong dark beer. But as in all home-style cooking, you may not have all the authentic ingredients on hand and you have to make do with whatever is available in your kitchen, right? Why visit belgian restaurants such as Oosters or Brussels Sprouts in Singapore when you can cook up something so simple at home? By the way, I just checked their websites, they don't serve flemish beef stew. Actually I don't blame them, they will probably go bankrupt if they use belgian beer in their dishes, considering that a bottle of Westmalle Tripel will set you back by at least SGD 22 bucks or 13 euro!!! :)


  1. I think every Flemish family has its own stoofvlees recipe. I use Kasteelbier Donker and a bit of dark castorsugar to take the bitterness of the beer away. I'm going to try it with Westmalle Tripel. My son will like that!

  2. Kasteelbier Donker...I have not heard of this beer before, but that's bcos my knowledge of belgian beer is still quite limited. Good that you recommend it. Gonna get my hubby to buy a few bottles to try it out. :)

  3. I must admit I don't cook beef stew as I hardly ever buy beef. But yours sure look divine!


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