Irish Beef & Stout Stew
This St. Patrick’s Day, you can either:
(A) Squeeze yourself into an “Irish pub” crammed wall-to-wall with drunk people drinking green beer
(B) Drink alone with a bottle of your local liquor store’s finest Irish whiskey
(C) Make this incredibly comforting stew, invite some good friends over, pour pints of Guinness, and eat well until the leprechauns come home.
This St. Patrick’s, I propose you don’t go to a bar unless you’re actually in Ireland. I propose you don’t wear beads or shamrocks. I say you celebrate the occasion with good food, friends and family. I say you don’t drink anything green. Absolutely not this concoction.
Start with some quality stew beef like beef chuck. But not too lean. You’ll want lovely lines of fat well marbled throughout the meat. Add some carrots and potatoes, either Russet or new potatoes. I like to keep my vegetables in big, hearty chunks so they don’t dissolve into mush. I also add them only in the last 75 minutes of the braising. Aromatics like thyme, caraway seeds, bay leaves and garlic round out the flavors. As with most braises, this is wonderful on the first day, but even better on the second.
This St. Paddy’s Day, make this and you won’t need to worry about spilled beer on your shoes. Unless your dinners are a lot more interesting than mine.
Recipe: Irish beef and stout stew
Ironically, it’s entirely possible to dry out the beef even though it’s swimming in liquid the whole time. Make sure you gently simmer rather than go at a full boil, and check the meat after 2 hours. It should be fork tender, but not dry and stringy. Also, if you can plan for it, make this one day ahead to let the meat sit and flavors deepen. Rewarm and serve on the second day.
1/4 cup high-heat oil like grapeseed or safflower
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, roughly diced
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
6 cups beef or chicken stock
1 can of Guinness (14.9 ounces)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried or several sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
4 large carrots, cut on the diagonal into large pieces
6-8 small potatoes, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Pat meat completely dry. Season well with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy large pot over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add oil and wait until it shimmers. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. You’ll want to do this in batches. Don’t crowd the pan and don’t rush it; this step can take 30 minutes or longer.
Transfer beef to a separate bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Melt butter in pot. Add onion. Cook until somewhat soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock, Guinness, sugar, thyme, caraway seeds, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Return beef and any juices to pot. Stir to combine and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour 15 minutes, gently stirring once or twice.
Add potatoes and carrots. Simmer until beef is very tender, another hour and 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Spoon off fat if desired. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of warm water. Add to stew and continue cooking uncovered for 15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Transfer stew to warmed serving bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.