The Holiday break is upon my college kids so for their last dinner I wanted to do something fancy but time got the best of me so I made Guinness stew but it came out as good as any we had in Ireland.
I did look at a few recipes but I mostly went my own way with it. I kept to the traditional potatoes and carrots but I added leeks instead of using a yellow onion, mostly because I didn’t have a yellow onion but let’s say I did it for the flavor. I also added a bit more of the Guinness than any of the recipes called for but again I did it for the flavor.
I want to start with the specifics this time so we can spend more time talking about the fun parts.
- 3 pounds of stew meat- beef, lamb, bison, whatever you have on hand
- 1 pound of carrots sliced into bite size chunks
- 5 medium sized potatoes- diced for mashing or cooking whole
- 1 yellow onion or leek or a couple of shallots
- 2 pints of Guinness
- 1/2 cup of flour seasoned with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
- 8 cups of beef stock or broth
- 6 -8 strips of thick cut bacon
- 2 cans of tomato paste- the little ones
Now for the fun! We get to use our Dutch Ovens! Another wedding gift that sits idle in the back of the cupboard and yes it is appropriate to Thank the person who gifted it to you again. OK, get the bacon and slice it into bite size pieces and start it on medium low heat in the dutch oven. For me this was a one pot meal because I cooked the potatoes in the stew instead of mashing them for serving the stew over and also so none of the flavor bits get lost.
Back to business,while the bacon is cooking get the meat in a bowl and sprinkle it with just enough of the seasoned flour to coat it lightly, we only want a light crust and we don’t want to use up all of the grease that the bacon is about to give us. Once the bacon has gotten almost crisp and has given off all of its beautiful fat scoop it out of the pan with a slotted spoon so that as much of the fat stays in the pan as possible because it is vital to the rest of the dish. After you have scooped all the bacon start cooking the meat. Depending on how much meat you have this might need to be cooked in batches, my 3 pounds needed 4 batches, you don’t want to crowd the meat all together at once because it won’t get crusty.
Now we have the meats cooked let’s get busy with the veg. Hopefully there is still bacon grease left in the pot but if not you can use olive or grape seed oil. Start with the onion that you have chosen and diced and let it get all soft and sexy for 3 or 4 minutes. When the onions are translucent add the carrots and potatoes and let them get friendly with the onions and pork fat. I know you are waiting for me to season this veg but the bacon grease is salty so I am not going to right now. The veg doesn’t need much time here, we really just want to get a bit of early flavor into them before we bring on the big players.
Our big players are the tomato paste and of course the Guinness. Let’s get started with the fun!! Turn the veg up to medium high and get a good sizzle going, ideally there is little to no pork fat left in the pot at this point but if there is still a bit left in yours then let the veg keep sizzling for a minute until most of the grease cooks down. Once a decent sizzle has been reached pour in one of the pints of Guinness and stir it making sure to scrape up all of the bits that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Ok, I made a mistake on the next part here but I am going to tell you how I should have done it instead of how I did do it.
Let the Guinness reduce by about half which should take 4 or 5 minutes then add one can of the tomato paste and whisk it in well and let the mix come back up to a simmer. When the simmer returns add the second pint and can of tomato paste and whisk until well combined and continue to simmer for 3 or 4 minutes before you bring everyone back to the party.
Everyone is ready to come back to the party and by everyone I mean the meats and the broth and the seasonings. We want to reduce the heat under the beer and veggies before we add the meats, this is so the meats can soak up some of the beer before we add the broth. Letting the beef and bacon hang out in our sexy beer and veg sauce not only gives the meat a chance to soak up some of the beer flavor it also lets the floury crust we got on the meat a chance to thicken up the sauce a bit. The science is the flour works as a thickening agent just as any other starch would even tho it has been cooked.
Give the meat party about 8 minutes to rage before you settle it all down with a bit of broth. The amount of liquid is totally up to the chef. Our one pot stew has the potatoes, tomato paste and beef crust as thickening agents so even tho we added two pints of beer the sauce should be fairly thick and we only want to add enough broth to make it slightly less thick than a potato soup but if you get too excited with the broth it can be fixed so don’t worry if you have more of a soup than a stew.
The party raged, we tamed it with some broth and now we need to taste. I added a pinch of salt, a bunch of black pepper , a 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Let your freshly seasoned concoction simmer on low for 5 or 6 minutes and taste it again, it should be good to go but if it needs more of anything add it and let it simmer another 4 or 5 minutes before you taste again. The simmering between adding the seasonings gives them a chance to get all distributed and not just have pockets of flavor.
While the stew is on for its final seasoning and simmering you can toss a loaf of bread into the oven to serve with. Any crusty bread will do but a bit of crust is necessary for soup scooping purposes!
Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!