Belgium is located in Northern Europe between France, Germany, Netherlands and Luxemburg.
My husband has read somewhere that the Belgians have the appetites of the Germans with the sensibilities of the French. In my reading the Belgians were referred to as gourmands as differentiated from the French gourmets. So, of course I had to look up both words to understand why that was so clever (funny how you think you know what words mean, then you realize that you really don’t). Gourmands like lots of food, gourmets like good food. So, when you understand the joke you realize it isn’t very nice…we’ll move on.
There were only two things I knew about Belgian food before I started – 1) they make the best chocolate in the world, 2) they also make a really yummy beer. I quickly decided that mixing beer and chocolate on a burger would be disgusting (I know, you were worried for a minute there). After doing some more research I found that Belgians like hearty food, beef and beef stews. That seemed like a good place to start. Belgians are also pretty fond of cheese. I decided to go with an Edam as it’s a pretty common cheese in that part of Europe. The first store I went to didn’t have Edam and recommended a yellow Gouda instead. I tried both and the Gouda didn’t have the flavor that I wanted. It wasn’t bad, but the Edam has a richer flavor that stood up better to the stew.
The result was a rich and tasty burger – it was like eating a hearty beef stew and the cheese just puts it over the top. Unfortunately because it’s made with beer, I had to go lightly on the topping myself (I’m allergic to beer), but I did risk life and limb to taste everything and I loved it. We served it with the rest of the Chimay for everyone else and a glass of 7 Deadly Zins for me. Because the burger is a little heavy, we just roasted some white and green asparagus tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper – yummm. I again realized after photographing that I had forgotten the top piece of bread, but we did eat it with a top and bottom and that’s how I recommend you do it.
This is an easy burger to make – one topping, and that topping can be made ahead of time. Enjoy!
Italian bread sliced into 8 slices ¼ inch thick
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
3 ounces Edam cheese sliced
Green leaf or bib lettuce
Belgian Beer Stew
Brush olive oil onto a nonstick grill pan or outdoor grill. Lightly grill each slice of bread until just toasted, then turn and toast the other side. Set aside.
Combine beef with salt and pepper then form into four patties and grill to desired temperature. Add cheese 1-2 minutes before burger is completely cooked and cover to melt the cheese completely.
Place lettuce on four slices of bread, add burger patties then top with a generous helping of Belgian Beer Stew and the final four pieces of bread.
Belgian Beer Stew
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced carrots
2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
2 medium cloves garlic
2 cups Chimay Bleue
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons beef demi glace
2 Tablespoons flour
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add carrots and sauté for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook for 3 minutes stirring regularly (don’t let the onions burn!). Add celery and garlic and sauté for another minute. Add Chimay and bay leaves. Stir and get any bits up from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a rapid simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and demi glace and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Whisk in flour, add salt and pepper to taste then simmer for another 5 minutes until stew is thick.
You can make the stew ahead of time, but heat it up and serve it hot.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach