Flemish Carbonades
From "Chocolate and Zucchini" by Clotilde Dusoulier

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 1/2 lbs well trimmed boneless beef chuck in 1in slices
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp flour
2 lbs yellow onions sliced
3 cups (24oz or 2 bottles) rich amber ale
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 slices of day old peasant type bread (not sourdough) 1/2in thick
2 Tbps strong dijon mustard

Melt butter in large heavy pot on medium heat. Add half the meat in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Transfer to a plate and brown the rest of the meat. Return all the meat to the pot and sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Stir to coat. Add the onions and stir. Cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly.

Pour in 1 cup warm water and stir to deglaze. Pour in the beer and 1 more cup of water, stir and bring to a simmer.

Add the sugar, thyme, bay leaves, and cloves. Lower the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 2 /12 hours stirring every once in a while. After 1 hour spread the mustard on the bread slices and drop them in, they should dissolve eventually.

Uncover and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for 20 minutes more, stirring regularly until sauce is thick enough to cling a bit to the meat. Serve with potatoes. You can make the stew a day ahead, just skim off the fat and re-heat over gentle heat.
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