Beef & Guinness Stew
Friday March 11, 2011
While many people with Irish blood (or like me, just pretending they have Irish blood) will be drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage on Thursday, many poeple will be in St. Patrick's Day mode from Thursday and throughout the weekend. As they say, there's 364 practice days and only one St. Patrick's Day! That's the way I remember celebrating when I lived in St. John's, Newfoundland, which might possibly be the most Irish place outside Ireland. One of my favourite ways to celebrate was to head downtown to George Street at about 11:30 in the morning on the last Sunday of St. Patrick's Day Weekend, and find one of the many great Irish pubs/bars (Greensleeves was a great choice for a few years). I would get a large table up as close to the stage where there'd be numerous bands playing throughout the day and night, order up a big feed of steak and eggs with homefries and toast, and start drinking Guinness (after a coffee and Irish Cream). Needless to say, by the time evening came around we'd all be feeling pretty good, with my "Kiss Me I'm Irish" fake tattoos still hanging on and my feet tired from all the dancing. What a time we used to have.
I'm making new St. Paddy's Day traditions now down here in the Boston States and there's no shortage of Irish heritage and celebration in these parts, that's for sure. One way I celebrate is obviously through food and I like to start the week off by making a big pot of delicious Beef & Guinness Stew. For a cold, damp mid-March evening, you really can't beat a bowl of this hearty stew, with its tender morsels of beef, loads of carrots and onions, and savoury Guinness broth. Here's how I make mine.
Beef & Guinness Stew
2 pounds stew beef
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for searing the beef
4 carrots, sliced crossways
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 can of Guinness
1 (32-oz) carton of good beef stock/broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Enough cornstarch and water to make a little slurry to thicken the stew
Prepare beef by cutting into 1-inch cubes, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the meat with salt and pepper and toss lightly in some flour. Add oil to a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and sear the cubed beef in small batches in the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pot as you will end up steaming the meat. It will be worth the extra effort, as getting a good crust on the meat is a one-way ticket to flavour-town. Reserve all the browned beef to the side and to the same pot, add the onion and carrots, along with a little oil if needed. Season the vegetables with a little salt and pepper (I like to season my food as I go through the stages) and cook for a couple of minutes, until they just start to get tender. Add the beef back to the pot, along with the can of beer, the beef stock and the tomato paste. Be sure to scrape all the bits on the bottom of the pot (more flavour-town action). The tomato paste adds additional depth and richness to the stew. Add the bay leaf, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cover. Simmer the stew on low until the beef is super tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When there is about a half an hour left to the cooking, taste the soup for seasoning and adjust the thickness of the broth to your desired consistency. The flour on the beef would have added some body, but by combining some water and cornstarch (or Wondra flour) you can quickly thicken the stew. Do this and let it cook on low for another 30 minutes to cook out any raw cornstarch/flour taste. Serve in large bowls with some Irish soda bread or rolls, and garnish with fresh parsley.
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About Me...The Wicked Newfoundlander
I'm originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and very proud of it! I moved to upstate New York in 2007, and I spend much of my time working and playing throughout New England. Besides my wife, our dog and hockey, I'm passionate about food. I love to cook and create great tasting food. I also love tasting and critiquing food, and comparing regional cuisine (notably Newfoundland and New England dishes).