Saturday, 17 March 2012

Happy St. Paddy's Day Beef and Guinness Stew

My husband was born and raised in County Kildare, Ireland. He's not a big fan of Saint Paddy's day, especially not the whole North American green beer spin on things, but he is a big fan of Irish food and of people buying him drinks, so he puts on a good show of it.

This is my Culchie father-in-law Mick's beef stew recipe, and the only one my husband will eat. Which I happen to be cooking for an Irish-themed potluck tonight. That my husband will no doubt complain about once we're fed and home again. Never mind him, though, he's a spoil sport.

So here's what you'll need:

(Feeds 2)
1 lb stewing beef
1 can of Guinness (plus one to drink, if you're like Mick)
300 mL of beef stock
1 tsp "mixed herbs"
1/2 cup flour
Potatoes and other root vegetables
3 sticks celery
1 onion (optional)

Start off by peeling and prepping your vegetables. You can use whatever veg you're into: if it grows underground, it'll probably taste good. For my husband and I, we like a mix of yukon gold potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnip. I threw some celery in, even though he doesn't like it, but there's no sneaking an onion by him so I had to leave that out. There's no exact numbers for this: just do as much as you think your family wants to eat. I'm serving a crowd so I did 5 carrots, 5 parsnips, 6 potatoes, a big turnip, and 5 small stalks of celery.


Once you've got them all prepped, toss them into a big bowl and put them aside for later.

Next, take out your stewing beef (or you could buy a roast and cut it up yourself, but eh, I'm lazy). I buy mine from the local butcher's because it's high quality, humanely raised, and locally-sourced. If you buy tougher/cheaper meat, I imagine you can just cook it longer (or even stick it in a slow-cooker for the day) and it'll taste perfectly delicious.

Roll the beef in some flour. I added pepper, although that's not strictly included in Mick's recipe. Put a pot (if you're going stove-top) or cast iron dutch oven (if you prefer to bake) on medium high heat on the stove and add a glug of olive oil. When the oil's hot, use it to sear your beef. Usually I use a dutch oven, but because I'm making this for a big party tonight, I'm using my mother's stock pot.


Once your beef is seared, remove it from the pot and set aside. (I just threw it on top of my vegetables, because eh.) Crack open a Guinness (or two) and pour it into the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Mick's exact directions are to "pour a small glass" into the pan, reserving the rest, and then add the remainder of the can later. I imagine this method would give you a stronger Guinness flavour than pouring in the whole can at once at this point, which is what I did. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the yummy bits the beef has left behind. Let the Guinness boil a bit to burn off the alcohol.

Once you've deglazed your pan, dump your meat and veg back into the pot. If you followed Mick's Guinness instructions, add the rest of the Guinness. Add the beef stock, as well. Your liquid shouldn't cover the vegetables. Finally, add your "mixed herbs." Mick was in bed by the time I tried to ask him what "mixed herbs" are, so I used my mom's jar of herbs de provence, which is always yummy with beef.


If you're cooking this on the stove top, bring it to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for two hours. If you're baking it, bake it at 190 Celsius for 2 hours, likewise stirring occasionally. It'll thicken as it goes.

(And then at the very end of the recipe, Mick notes "don't forget to pre-heat the oven." Thanks, Mick!)

Serve with Irish Soda bread. To eat it like my husband does, you can also add Chef Brown Sauce right before serving. Happy St. Paddy's day!

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