Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guinness Beef Stew

Hello, everyone!  It looks like we're in the countdown to St.Patrick's day, and the internet being filled with green foods and beer.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to do something slightly more authentic.  This beef stew is really lovely, with the soft potatoes, tender meat and the slightly biter flavor of the Guinness, it is in pretty steady rotation in our house!

A couple of years ago, my husband I were lucky enough to visit Ireland.  We had a full week of pretty good weather, and lots of laughs.  We also ate some pretty incredible food!  
While we were there, we toured the Guinness storehouse, and ate at their restaurant.  My husband got the Guinness beef stew, and I decided to get a cold roasted chicken.  My husband ended up on the wining side of things.
However, when we got home, I made this, and haven't looked back!  I have a couple of good beef stew recipes, but this one always hits the spot!  It doesn't hurt that it takes us right back to Ireland every time we have it,'s a lot more affordable to eat this, than book a flight across the pond!

Here's your grocery list for this one:
1-2 pounds lean stew meat
Kosher salt, for seasoning
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 Tbs tomato paste
1/3 C all purpose flour
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of Guinness
32 oz beef stock
2 carrot sticks
2 celery sticks
8 oz mushrooms
3 large yellow potatoes
1 Tbs dried thyme
1/2 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
3 bay leaves

It sounds like a lot, I know, however you probably have most of this already in your pantry!  To start off with, I like to trim most of the fat off of my stew meat and season liberally with Kosher salt; sometimes my meat has been pretty well trimmed at the store, but sometimes I get chunks that are mostly fat or tough gristle.  I don't mind some fat left on the meat - fat equals flavor!  However, I don't want a lot of extra fat in my stew, either.  Take a large heavy bottomed pot, and heat your oil up until it is shimmering, then (carefully!) lay your stew meat in, until it is browned.  Don't overcrowd your meat - otherwise it will steam instead of caramelize, so you may have to do this in a couple of batches.

Don't be afraid of what the bottom of your pot looks like after your meat is finished.  You'll see some black areas, and lots of brown areas,  This is all flavor being built up for your soup, so leave it as is!  Once your meat has finished browning, put in your tomato paste, and let these cook together for a few minutes, stirring pretty constantly, over medium heat.  This will let the can taste cook out of the tomato paste, and coat the beef.  Once your meat and tomato paste have cooked together, add your garlic, and let this cook for just another minute, until fragrant.  

Stir in your flour, and again, let this cook, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes.  This lets the raw flour taste cook out, and forms a thick-ish paste.  Looks tasty.  

After cooking the flour for a few minutes, add in your liquids, the Guinness and beef stock.  Keeping your heat at medium, cover and let this simmer for about an hour.

A quick tip:  most recipes won't call for the use of the entire can of tomato paste.  To store mine, I cover my leftover with a piece of plastic wrap, and carefully push the can lid back into the can, over the plastic wrap, all of the way back in until it is resting on top of the rest of the tomato paste.  Then, I just put it in the fridge until I'm ready for it again.  I go through tomato paste pretty quickly, but I wouldn't keep it in the fridge for more than a week or so.
While your meat is simmering, I like to go on and prep my veggies, so they're waiting on me when I'm ready for them.  An important part of having everything cook at the same time, is making sure that everything is roughly the same size.  To do that, I like to cut my mushrooms in half, then straight across 3 times, so that I end up with 8 pieces from each mushroom.  However, these were pretty big mushroom caps, so I'll leave it up to you, how big you want/need to cut your veggies up.

After an hour, chop up your potatoes (don't do it earlier, because they'll brown, and that's not tasty) add in your dried herbs, potatoes and other veggies.  Stir them in, and cook over medium heat, for another hour to an hour and a half.

You'll notice a skin forms on the top of the stew - you'll want to skim this off with a spoon, and discard.  At this point, taste your stew, and check the seasonings.  If you need to add more salt, add more in.  If you've found you've accidentally over salted, add in either more beef stock or some water, to dilute things a bit.

At this point, your beef and veggies will be tender.  I like to take some out, and pierce them with a knife - if the knife easily goes through, then you're ready to serve!

I like to serve this with some fluffy yeast rolls and the remaining Guinness from the pack that I bought at the store!  I hope you have a lovely St.Patrick's day, and eat lots of fun food (even if most of it is green!)