Will carbonnade a la flamande be good in the crockpot?
October 25, 2012 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Can I adapt this recipe for Carbonnade a la Flamande for the crockpot / slow cooker?

I've made this Carbonnade a la Flamande before, and it is fantastic, but the finish is always annoying -- it takes way longer than two hours of simmering to get the beef as tender as I want it to be. I've always finished it on the stovetop, but the recipe says "You can make the carbonnade either entirely on the stovetop, or you can start it on the stove and finish it in the oven. If you’re going to use the oven, preheat it to 175C/350F."

My question is: if I cook it on the stove to the oven stage and then dump the whole thing in a crockpot on Low and leave it on overnight (in lieu of the oven), will it be good in the morning, or will I be scraping sad bits of carbonnade-sludge off the walls and crying over my $10 bottle of Chimay? My instinct says it'll be delicious, but I'd like a sanity check. The weather has just turned and I need my fall beef n' onions fix -- hope me, crockpot chefs!
posted by vorfeed to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Totally. Texture may suffer (onions may get a little more fall-aparty, beef to mush) depending on how long you leave it in. Overnight may be a bit much unless your slow cooker has a "cook on low for five hours, then turn to warm" setting.
posted by supercres at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2012

I don't know about this specific recipe but I've made something very similar (ie simple beef stew with beer as the liquid base) in a crockpot and it comes out GREAT. Have some crusty good bread on hand too!
posted by The otter lady at 8:42 PM on October 25, 2012

You can definitely make this in a crockpot. My husband just made a very similar recipe in ours last week!

You'll want to brown the meat and cook the onions in a (huge) skillet, basically following the recipe right up until the point where you pour in the beer. When you mix everything together and pour the beer, it should be in your crockpot.

You also might want to use less beer than the recipe calls for -- other ingredients will release liquid, so recipes tend to need less added liquid in slow cooking.

As for leaving it overnight, I wouldn't do that the first time. It might be fine, but there's a big difference between 6-8 hrs when you're stirring occasionally/keeping an eye on tenderness, and 8 hours when you're asleep with no hope of reacting to signs of progress.

In short: babysit it the first time you cook it in the crockpot to figure out whether you can overnight it next time.
posted by nadise at 8:57 PM on October 25, 2012

Hmm. My crockpot has no such low->warm timer, but I could always start it at lunch, see how it goes, and have it ready for dinner! I also appreciate the tip about adding the beer while the stew is in the crockpot, and adding less of it (oh, what a sacrifice! Whereever shall I put the rest of this delicious, delicious beer!?)

Thanks, guys! Any other tips?
posted by vorfeed at 9:13 PM on October 25, 2012

You can get a cheap mechanical timer at most hardware stores that'll let you be more precise about how long it's on-- the timer will go on the wall-socket and allow, then interrupt the cooking period. Set the timing so it comes to an end when you're due to arrive home.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:40 PM on October 25, 2012

I would add that I would simmer the stew a little to cook off some of the alcohol which may not cook off fully in the crock pot. Also - you need way less liquid in a crock pot. The beef itself will exude a tremendous amount of liquid during cooking.
posted by helmutdog at 10:24 PM on October 25, 2012

I would do exactly this:
You'll want to brown the meat and cook the onions in a (huge) skillet, basically following the recipe right up until the point where you pour in the beer. When you mix everything together and pour the beer, it should be in your crockpot.
And use less liquid, as mentioned.

Also, I have put beef stew in my slow cooker multiple times for 9 hours on Low and it always comes out amazing. Look for beef shin if you can, it's simultaneously really cheap and amazing for slow cooking.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:02 AM on October 26, 2012

Rather than use sliced onions, you might try using whole shallots (or very small whole onions). cut the ends off, and peel, but do not slice when prepping. Then brown them after you brown your meat, and get a bit of char on them. As you slow-cook them, they will retain their consistency better than sliced onions, and also give you a more interesting presentation.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2012

TheWhiteSkull, that sounds fantastic! Think I'll put a mix of both sliced onions and whole shallots in.
posted by vorfeed at 11:51 AM on October 26, 2012

Thanks, guys. This came out really great. I put it on High for the first hour and then left it on Low, for about 6 hours total (so yes, overnight would have been overkill... it probably would have been good starting after 4 hours or so, but at 6 the meat is perfectly fall-aparty). If you make this, try TheWhiteSkull's idea -- those tiny oniontreasures were the best part!
posted by vorfeed at 3:24 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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