1/4 lb. bacon
2 very large yellow onions (1 ½ to to 2 pounds) peeled and thinly sliced
1 T. sugar
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 T. dried thyme
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds beef stew meat (chuck is best), cubed
Vegetable oil, optional
Chopped parsley for garnish
Coarsely dice the bacon and saute in a large skillet until crisp and brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add onions to the skillet and cook in bacon drippings until tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover the skillet, raise the heat and sprinkle the onions with the sugar. Toss and stir them until they are well-browned. Transfer the onions to a strainer set over a bowl and let stand while you prepare the beef.
Stir together on a plate the flour, thyme, salt and pepper and roll the meat cubes around in the mixture until well-coated. Shake off the excess and set the cubes on another plate.
Press onions gently with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the cooking fat as possible. Transfer fat to a large Dutch oven. Add additional fat in the form of vegetable oil if it appears you will not have enough for proper browning for the beef. Be sparing, however, or the carbonnade will be greasy.
Set the Dutch oven over high heat. When it is very hot, add 6 to 8 beef cubes. Do not crowd them or they will not brown properly. Turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook cubes until browned on all sides. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a clean plate and proceed with the browning until all the meat is done.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Pour the beer into the Dutch oven and stir up all the browned bits on the bottom. Return the beef cubes to the Dutch oven along with the bacon and sauteed onions. Bring to a simmer on the stove. Cover and set on the middle rack of the oven.
Cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, or until stew is reduced and thickened and meat is tender. Regulate the oven temperature as needed to maintain a moderate simmer.
Taste and correct seasonings. Turn stew out into a heated serving dish (or serve right from the Dutch oven), garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Good over broad egg noodles tossed with butter.
Yield: 6 hearty portions.
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