Carbonnade with Collards

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Carbonnade, a stew made of beef, onions and beer, is a favorite dish in Belgium. It is hearty bistro food, often flavored with bacon and brown sugar. Although it is great comfort food, carbonnade can be a tad bland and extremely rich. I prefer this lighter version, with a hint of spice rather than sweetness and the addition of flavorful and nutrient-dense collard greens. Serve this over noodles or mashed potatoes for a meal that is destined to become a family favorite.

NotesWorks in slow cookers from 3½ to 6 quarts.

I prefer to use sweet paprika in this recipe, but if you like a bit of heat, use hot paprika instead, reducing the quantity to 2 tsp (10 ml). Smoked paprika would also work, adding a pleasant bit of smokiness to the dish.

One way to prepare collard greens for use in a stew is to cut them into a chiffonade. Remove any tough veins toward the bottom of the leaves and up the center of the lower portion of the leaf. Stack about 6 in a pile. Roll them up like a cigar, then slice as thinly as you can. Repeat until all the greens are sliced.


Cooking Methodslow cooking


Total Timehalf-day

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot


Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, meaty, savory, spiced


  • 4 oz (125 g) chunk bacon, diced
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) stewing beef, trimmed, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and patted dry
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced on the vertical
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 cups (500 ml) dark beer
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chicken stock (store-bought or see recipe)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) paprika (see tips), dissolved in 2 tbsp (25 ml) cider vinegar
  • 8 cups (2 L) thinly sliced (chiffonade) stemmed collard greens (about 2 bunches) (see tips)


  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Drain off all but 1 tbsp (15 ml) fat from pan, reserving remainder.

  2. Add beef to pan, in batches, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per batch, adding more bacon drippings between batches if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware as completed.

  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pan, adding more bacon drippings if necessary, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and peppercorns; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add beer, stock and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Transfer to stoneware and stir well.

  4. 4. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until beef is tender. Stir in paprika solution and reserved bacon. Add collard greens, in batches, completely submerging each batch in liquid before adding another. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until collards are tender. Discard bay leaves.


  5. Complete Step 3, heating 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil in pan before softening the onions. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, saute the bacon and brown the beef. Combine meat and vegetable mixture and continue with Step 4.


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