Have you been to Gourmandistan? It’s a land known for its food — a place where things are often cooked in duck fat, strange and unusual flavor combinations are discovered and pork is a prized beast. It’s also the inspiration for this post, as I continue to try out one recipe a month from some of my favorite blogs.
Many things that Steve and Michelle (the primary residents of Gourmandistan) cook intrigue me, but when it came time to pick one dish to make, I already had the winner in mind. The title for the original post with the recipe was so clever it gave me some serious blog-envy, but it was the ingredient list that solidified my decision.
Gourmandistan’s version of a beef carbonnade, adapted from a Daniel Boulud braising cookbook, includes the following: Chimay beer, beef, bacon, creme fraiche, orange marmalade and gingersnap cookie crumbs. It’s like a list of my favorite things!
I followed their recipe to the letter except for the garnishes. I had made a parsley pistou earlier in the week and so I added a dollop of that to the noodles instead of the chopped parsley and poppyseeds. Served with a glass of wine (I drank the last of the Chimay while the meat was braising) and some homemade bread, this dish was a winner of epic proportions.
But let’s back up to the beginning, starting with the seemingly strange additions to any braised beef dish…
Despite those oddities, this carbonnade began in an expected manner…browned beef, lardons of bacon, onions and herbs.
Next came the slightly pricey bottle of Chimay (yum!) and the creme fraiche. And finally I added the tablespoon of pureed marmalade and a third of a cup of gingersnap crumbs. Then the mixture simmered gently until the beef was fork tender. I tasted it often as it cooked, trying to see if I could identify either of the unusual ingredients.
If asked at gun point, there is no way I could have figured out what was in this dish. The beer and bacon were quite discernible, but the rest of the ingredients married together to form a sauce that was an incredible balance of many flavors. The marmalade added a slight citrus tang that hit softly every few bites and the gingersnaps added an earthy depth.
The next day I reheated the carbonnade and served it with some buttered egg noodles, roasted carrots and the aforementioned parsley pistou. It was a meal perfectly suited for a blustery not-quite-spring day.
The next day I fed bites to uncertain co-workers all of whom loved the flavor just as much as I did.
I’m so happy my trip to Gourmandistan resulted in such an eye-opening (and belly pleasing) experience. Can’t wait to book my next trip there!