Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I worked in restaurants and bars for most of my 20’s and 30’s, as a waitress and bartender in my early 20’s and as a manager for many more years. St. Patrick’s night was always nuts, even at the white tablecloth McCormick & Schmick’s, which Bill McCormick once described as “a bar with a really good restaurant attached.”

Since leaving the restaurant business I don’t think I’ve ever gone out to celebrate St. Patrick’s. We used to call it amateur night, and put it in the same category as Valentine’s Day — torturous nights, but big money. This year, even though my association was having their monthly Thirsty Thursday at Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, I stayed in and prepared a superb Irish meal. I didn’t want to make corned beef and cabbage because that’s something that Jim makes throughout the year. I found this beef stew recipe on Elise Bauer’s Simply Recipes blog, and knew it would be good because, well, her recipes are always good. The only change I made was to add some mushrooms.

I had a whirlwind of a few hours as I got the stew and colcannon ready. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes and greens. For a while I didn’t think I allowed enough time to bake Irish soda bread too, but I had a window while other things were cooking away, so I went for it. Sometimes cooking can almost feel like a workout, especially when you think you’re up against the clock. But it’s a fun workout, very in the moment and focused, but enjoyable – sort of like yoga!

This is a really delicious stew – one that I will keep in my repertoire. Carrying on my mother’s tradition, this will be my camping stew. My mother used to freeze her beef stew in ice cream containers and defrost it in time for our Columbus Day weekend camping (and apple-picking) trips in Vermont. We’d traditionally have it for dinner on our first night with a hardy wheat bread from the bakery.

I served the stew with a ‘modern’ version of colcannon and whole wheat Irish soda bread with raisins. Remember to buy enough Guinness for the stew and you!

beef guinness stout beer stew st patricks irish dinner recipe

photo by Emdot (flickr)

Beef and Stout Stew

You’ll need a large heavy pot or dutch-oven with a lid, tongs (if you have them, if not, a fork will do) and a large frying pan.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled (not lean) beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup stout — I used Guinness to keep in the spirit of things
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches, add the beef to the pot. Don’t crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown. Cook, without stirring, until browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef broth, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the stew is simmering, melt butter in another large pan over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, mushrooms and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

When the stew has simmered 1 hour, add the sautéed vegetables. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Original recipe: Irish Beef Stew, Simply Recipes

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6 thoughts on “Beef and Stout Stew

  1. teri says:

    trade ya…
    (I would imagine you probably already have this, if not something similar. Love this cake. )

    Chocolate Guinness Cake

    Ingredients for the cake:
    1 cup Guinness
    1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    2 cups superfine sugar
    3/4 cup sour cream
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

    Ingredients for the topping:
    8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
    1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    (For a simpler dessert, replace the frosting with a light dusting of powered sugar.)
    Preheat the over to 350 F, and butter and line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment .

    Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

    Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

    Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, (it is a very moist cake.)

    When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner’s sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Spread only on top of cake to resemble the foam on the top of it’s namesake.

    Makes about 12 slices

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Teri, I am copying this and putting it into my Make Next file, which really doesn’t mean ‘make next’ but it means ‘make this before you make other things like it.’ I have a really good stout gingerbread that’s on this blog somewhere but not everyone is as much of a ginger freak as I am, so I’m psyched to have this. Totally off topic, I was thinking of you yesterday as I was interviewing someone at the American Library Assn for a case study I’m working on. I admitted to her that I am a librarian wannabe, but only after talking to her a while. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Mary Nations says:

    Wow – the stew sounds good, but since I don’t eat beef that cake certainly catches my eye – yum!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Yeah, it’s catching my eye too!

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