memories ...

memories ...

zondag 31 mei 2015

Belgian meat stew

Ask Belgians (that are not vegetarian) what their favourite food is and a lot will answer you it's Belgian beef stew and fries.

I say 'fries' because I don't want to imply they are a French invention. The art of fry-making is purely Belgian. Other cuisines make totally different fries: too thick, too thin, not twice fried in the proper temperatures ... For an overview of some differences between French and Belgian people, read this: Les trucs que les Belges font mieux que les Fran├žais It's in French so it's a good way to practice for the next visit to France or Belgium (or at least Brussels and the South) ;)

I'm not a big meat eater myself. I'm actually more of a flexitarian, eating fish and other kinds of meat but mostly vegetarian (and occasionally vegan). That's a decision I made out of two main ideas:
- First of all I don't really like most meats, I never liked them. You can't please me serving a big chunk of steak nor do pork chops look tempting to me. The only meat I like is meat that's 'hidden' or part of a larger dish, like a stew or a casserole.
- Secondly I don't like eating a lot of animal products because of the ecological point of view. The production of meat is so intensive and wasteful that's it's more logical and eco-friendly to eat more vegetarian dishes. Knowing that a lot of species around the world are in danger of going extinct due to loss of habitat or over-fishing, it's only better to be more conscious in what we eat. 

About 3 to 4 days a week I eat vegetarian/vegan, the other days I eat some kind of meat. When I leave my parents' home I see myself eating even less meat but for now I try to fit in the family dinner rotation also.

Well, today I made meat stew. Not beef stew because I think pork chops are better in taste (more fat content that is) and get soft more easily than the tough beef.
The ingredient that makes our stew Belgian is the beer and the mustard. Without those two it wouldn't be the same.
To serve this, we had (Belgian) fries and chopped salad and tomatoes. With mayonaise of course. Other ways to serve the stew are with cooked potatoes and apple sauce or red cabbage. 

Ingredients for 4:
- 4 pork chops
- 2 bay leaves
- knob of butter
- 1 medium onion
- pepper and salt to taste
- 1 package of Knorr stew seasonings (if not available: two pieces of white bread without crust with mustard on top)
- 1 tablespoon of mustard
- 1 bottle of beer (any kind, we use a less expensive one as the better beers are for drinking purposes in our eyes) of 33 cl
- a little water if needed
- raisins, dried apricots, dried prunes, ... (dried fruits in general), chopped

How to:
Chop the onion. Put some pepper on the chops. 

Heat the butter in a pan and sear the chops on both ways. Take out of the pan and put in a large pot with a good lid. Then brown the onions a little. Put the beer in the pan with the onions once they're browned so that the meat juices and pieces from the bottom loosen up.

Put this all in the pot along with the meat. Add the mustard, the bay leaves, extra pepper and salt (only use salt if you're not using the seasoning as the seasonings are salty on their own), the dried fruit and the mustard coated bread slices (again: when using the seasoning, this is only optional as they are needed for binding purposes).

Get everything boil a minute or two and put the lid on.

Then bring the fire to 'low' and let the stew simmer for at least 1,5 to 2 hours. Check whether the meat is softened.
Mix the seasonings with a little water and blend the mixture through the sauce.

Let cook along on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Check the taste and add salt or pepper to taste.


Stews get better when they stand. Making this a day ahead or in the morning is best but not needed.


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