Beef Stew with Caramelised Onions

Stew is one of the best treats for winter, and this is a great way to change it up some. With a beef to onion ratio of close to 1:1, this is a cheaper stew, but one where you do not feel like you are missing out on anything. Especially not with a whole head of garlic going in too! If you can’t find pink onions, you can use other onions as well.


  • 1kg stewing beef
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 200gr pancetta/bacon cubes
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 500ml beer
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 3 large sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 750gr pink onions
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbs coarse mustard
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika powder


Cut the stewing beef into cubes. Rough cubes for a normal stew, but if you want to use this stew for a pie, cut the pieces smaller (I go for approximately 1x1cm for pies).
Heat the butter in a large stewing pan and bake the bacon until starting to brown well but not quite turning hard. Take the bacon out and brown the beef well in several portions. Do not overcrowd the pan, as the beef will not brown that way, but will release it’s juices and it will boil the meat instead. The beef does not have to cook through, you only want to brown is as much as possible to get that lovely browning flavour into your stew.
Add all the beef to the pan and stir in the flour, stir well to coat the beef. Let the flour brown a bit before adding the bacon, beer, stock, thyme and bay leaves.
Let the stew simmer for 2 hours while stirring occasionally, then start on the onions. Stir the stew more often while you work on the onions, as the stew will have thickened and be more prone to burning.

Peel, halve and slice the onions. Bake them in the butter in a frying pan until they start to brown, then turn down the heat and let the onions sweat on a low heat for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the chopped up garlic (yes, use the whole head. Trust me).
At the end, turn up the heat to brown the onions and garlic a bit more, before adding everything to the beef stew (which will have been bubbling away for 2hr and 45min now). Also add the mustard, pepper and paprika powder.
Stir well and leave everything to simmer and infuse for 15 more minutes. Serve piping hot with mashed potato, or leave to cool to fill pies with. As for all beef stews, this is better the next day.

NOTE: If you serve this in cold pies, add 200-250ml milk to the cold stew before filling the pies. Cold stews tend to be dense and stiff, but this ensures the filling will be nice and moist when eating. However, I do prefer beef pies to be eaten hot.