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The CIA Cookbook
by The Culinary Institute of America
This combination of beef and onions, cooked in dark, rich ale, is a classic example from the Belgians of how to make the most from the ingredients at hand. If you can find stout or porter, use it in this hearty braised dish. Broad noodles, steamed potatoes, or potato croquettes would make an excellent accompaniment to this dish.
Makes 4 servings


    • 4 beef chuck steaks (about 5 to 6 oz each)
    • Salt as needed
    • Freshly ground black pepper as needed
    • 3 tbsp canola oil
    • 4 medium-size yellow onions, sliced thick
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
    • 12 oz dark beer
    • 2 cups Beef Broth
    • 1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
    • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Add the steaks to the skillet and sear them on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the skillet and hold them on a warmed plate.

3. Add the onions to the hot oil in the skillet and sauté them until they are a deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. As they cook, stir them from time to time to prevent scorching.

4. Add the tomato paste to the onions and sauté for about 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the water and brown sugar to the pan and stir well.

5. Add the beer and stir to blend. Allow the beer to reduce to half its original volume. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

6. Return the steaks to the skillet along with any juices they have released. Cover the skillet and place in the oven. Braise the steaks, turning from time to time to keep them evenly moistened, until they are very tender, about 1½ hours.

7. Remove the steaks and keep them warm. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Remove any fat from the surface and add the mustard and balsamic vinegar. Allow the sauce to reduce slightly over high heat and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the sauce over the steaks and serve on heated plates.

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