Dutch zuurvlees from the barbecue

Dutch zuurvlees is a popular dish in the province of Limburg in the south of the Netherlands. Over there, it’s called Zoervleisj. A direct English translation would be sour meat. It’s a tasty stew that you can eat all year round and is not sour as the name suggests.

Sour meat or Zoervleisj will be prepared slightly differently in every Limburg region and kitchen. After various preparations according to several recipes and tasting several times in Limburg, the recipe below is a good basis. Take advantage of this and be surprised.

The advantage of preparing a stew on the barbecue is that you can give extra flavour to this dish by adding smoke. With a kamado-style barbecue, I would choose a quick grill on cast iron grates. The grill stripes already give enough flavour in combination with the hot and fast grilling over the charcoal.

For this recipe, we use a flat iron steak. It’s a well-marbled and tender steak. It is certainly not the intention that you cook the meat through and through when grilling the steak. This stage is just to give the meat some extra flavour through the Maillard response of grilling. As you can see, the caramelized outside is well done, while the inside is still mostly rare.

Stewing is a fun and easy way to get an almost complete and delicious dish on the table. Low and slow preparations are often my preference because the wait is always well rewarded. Don’t think that stewing always has to take many hours. The longer, the better is not always the case. In fact, stewing too long or adding ingredients too early or too late can yield a completely different and not desirable result.

With this recipe, for example, it is essential to administer the apple syrup at the right time. Too early, the apple syrup will get bitter; if you add it too late, the stew will turn into a sweet apple syrup stew. These tips actually apply to all stews. So think carefully about the duration and the moments when you add something.

This Dutch zuurvlees tastes perfect with thick-cut chips and Limburg special beer. Are you also going to make Dutch zuur vlees? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Pepper and salt
  • 750 grams flat iron steak
  • 4 onions chopped
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 200 ml white wine vinegar
  • 200 ml water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 slices of Dutch ontbijtkoek. If you can’t find it, you can use 200 grs of spiced gingerbread
  • 4 tablespoons apple syrup
  • Pepper, salt and sugar to taste


  1. Heat your grill to about 200ºC (392F) with cast iron grates if you have them. Brush the grates clean and wipe with kitchen paper dipped in olive oil. Let the grill get up to temperature.
  2. Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides and grill it until nicely browned. Then remove the steak from the grill.
  3. Convert the barbecue for indirect cooking at approximately 120ºC (248F) and place a Dutch oven.
  4. Melt the butter in the Dutch oven and fry the chopped onions until they have a nice golden brown colour. The onion can then be removed from the pan since we will only serve it again halfway through the stew.
  5. Cut the grilled steak into cubes and put it in the empty Dutch oven. Pour the water and vinegar in until the meat is just covered, and place the pan back on the grill. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and cloves. Bring the stew to a boil and put the lid on the Dutch oven.
  6. After an hour, add the previously fried onions and apple syrup to the stew. Cut the gingerbread into cubes and stir it into the stew as well.
  7. The Dutch sour meat is now allowed to continue bubbling for another hour and a half. Check in halfway through to make sure it hasn’t thickened too much. If that’s the case, you can add a splash of water.
  8. After that hour and a half of stewing, your Limburg Zoervleisj is ready to serve. Don’t forget to take out the bay leaf, juniper berries and cloves. You could add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

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