Even though the clocks say springtime, it’s still chilly out there. Here’s a great recipe for Irish Stew with Guinness that takes some hints from the French beef Burgundy, and made lighter with the life altering chicken stock. The addition of Guinness gives a sweet hint of molasses that cannot be substituted, so save a pint for the stew before the lads get to it. Perfect for a lazy spring Sunday. Invented in Ireland, adapted by DineGirl.
cast iron dutch oven with lid
1 pound organic beef chuck, cut into 2 inch cubes
3 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 ribs of celery, chopped finely
3 carrots, peeled and chopped finely
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
bouquet garni – mix of parsley, thyme sprigs, two bay leaves tied together with kitchen twine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups Guinness stout beer
1-2 cups good red wine
3 cups life altering homemade chicken stock
3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cups of cut potatoes – mix of baby potatoes or two larger potatoes cut (peeled or unpeeled)
sliced mushrooms – few handfuls
kosher salt + fresh ground black pepper
fresh chopped parsley, crusty bread with melted cheddar cheese or Irish soda bread
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
1). Prep the meat. Cut into even cubes if the butcher’s cut is uneven, and pat dry with paper towel. Season with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Toss lightly in the flour so that everything is coated evenly. Place on a plate and set aside.
2). In the dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the bacon until lightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pot. (You will need just enough fat to coat the bottom of the pot to brown the meat).
3). If needed, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the dutch oven (if there isn’t enough fat from the bacon) to brown the meat. Do this in batches if necessary. Remove to a fresh plate as the meat browns, and set aside. This process takes about 5-8 minutes. Be patient and don’t fiddle with the meat, let each piece brown before turning over. The meat will lift easily when ready to turn.
4). After all the meat has been browned and removed, add another tsp of olive oil if necessary. Add the mirepoix (the finely chopped onion, celery, carrots) to the dutch oven, and saute 10 minutes to soften and start the base of the stew. Season lightly with 1/2 tsp salt and few pinches of fresh black pepper. Start scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the 2 tblspn tomato paste, and cook into the onion carrot mixture, 3 min. Add the chopped garlic.
5). Add 2 cups of Guinness at this stage and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Let the liquid reduce by half. Add the other cup of Guinness, and stir everything together. Return the meat (with the juices from the plate), and the crisped bacon. Add the wine, and bouquet garni, and stir everything together gently.
6). Add enough chicken stock to cover everything just slightly. Stir and taste the liquid. If it’s too bitter add another cup of red wine. If it’s too light add another splash of Guinness. Re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. At this stage the flavor profile is very much driven by personal preference. Trust your instincts.
7). Bring the mixture to a boil, and turn off heat.
8). Cover and put in center of oven at 325 degrees F for 3 hours.
9). After 2 hours, add the large cut carrots and potatoes.
10). After 3 hours, taste for doneness, and adjust seasonings if necessary. 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the sliced mushrooms.
The stew is done when the meat is still in tact but falls apart easily with a spoon, and the potatoes and carrots are slightly soft yet still firm, and not mushy.
Some like to thicken the stew by mashing a tblspn of softened butter and flour, but the starch from the potatoes tends to thicken the sauce sufficiently enough. Plus it’s nice to be able to enjoy the different layers of flavors in an untarnished way. Serve in bowls with a spoon and fork, and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Be sure to have pints of Guinness or wine waiting, alongside some warm crusty bread with cheddar cheese (melted preferably), or some big wedges of Irish Soda Bread.
This stew is true food for the soul, from the heart and traditions of the past.