Monday, January 17, 2011

Irish Beef Stew

Sometimes you just crave something hearty, warm, and simple. I originally looked up recipes for a beef stew, but I came across a couple Irish beef stews so I thought I’d go for it. Well, it turns out that I made the right choice because Irish Beef Stew has one of the best ingredients ever: beer. Guinness, to be exact. The recipe calls for a only 1 cup of Guinness, but I went for it and used a whole bottle. If you don’t like the hops flavor, then use only 1 cup or less.
I made this stew in a slow cooker, but when browsing I definitely came across some that you can make on the stove top. But my advice, if you don’t have a slow cooker, do yourself a favor and buy one. They are only $15-$30 for a decent one, or better yet find one at a second hand store. The recipe below is adapted from this recipe at SimplyRecipes so that you can use a slow cooker.
Fun Facts: Irish beef stews were traditionally peasant style dishes made with the most readily available ingredients, which were usually lamb/mutton, onions, potatoes, and some greens. This dish traveled to America when Irish people began immigrating to the U.S., and evolved according to different regions. They 
made the right decision with adding Guinness.

Irish Beef Stew
Servings: 5-6
Prep & Cook Time: 30 minutes prep, 8-10 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock or beef broth
1 bottle of Guinness beer (or 1 cup if you prefer less)
1 cup of fine red wine
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
1 regular bag of baby carrots (or 2 cups chopped carrots)
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large pan over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and flour the beef pieces. Add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook until nicely browned on all sides, but not all the way through. Add to crock pot.
2. Sauté the garlic in the pan for 1 minute. Add Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, and some of the stock. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil.
3. Add the potatoes, onion, and carrots to the crock pot. Then pour in the stock mixture and add the remaining stock.
4. Set the slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours, or 4-5 hours on high. Season with salt and pepper.