My ethnic background is so mixed and confusing, that I tend to associate myself with Asian cultures since that’s what I grew up in. But I know I’ve got some Scottish and English blood running through my veins, and I think I’m part Irish as well. I’ve always felt a longing to visit Ireland, Guinness was the first beer I actually liked, and my iPod is full of Celtic tunes (a lot of which were played at our wedding). One of my favorite ways to get in touch with my Irish roots, is the best beef stew on the planet.
I had a close group of friends in Hawaii that I would often eat out with, and we became known as the “Guinness Girls” because we would always order Guinness with our food. (Check out my post with my views on alcohol if you’re interested) We went through a time of experimenting with Guinness in cooking, even entering Guinness chili into local chili cook offs. My friends ended up taking a trip to Ireland, offering to pay for everything in country if I could just afford the plane ticket.
In my young foolishness, I was desperately trying to get approved for a credit card to purchase a plane ticket I couldn’t afford. Looking back I realize it was fortunate that didn’t happen, even though I was so sad to be left behind. While they were gone I comforted myself by playing around with different Irish recipes like corned beef with cabbage, kale mashed potatoes, and Irish Beef Stew made with (you guessed it!) Guinness.
I’ve talked to a couple different Irish friends to perfect this recipe over the years, and I now make it for every St. Patrick’s Day. There are two secrets to a perfect beef stew, the first is to brown the beef well and then simmer it for over an hour so it’s nice and tender. The second secret is the addition of Guinness and red wine to the beef broth. It adds such a depth to the flavor of the stew. But, I totally understand some people don’t want to have alcohol in the house, so you can substitute extra beef broth for the wine and beer and still have a great stew.
This stew also freezes really well. So even if you’re making it for one or two people, freeze the rest in freezer bags or plastic food storage containers. If you freeze it in one or two person sized portions, you’ll have a simple lunch or dinner that you can thaw and heat in the microwave in minutes. Do any of you have a favorite Irish recipe? Feel free to post it in the comments!
Irish Beef Stew Recipeserves 6-8
1/2-1 lb stew beef
salt and pepper
2 TBS olive oil
1 11.2 oz bottle Guinness Draught
1 cup red wine
5 cups beef stock (or 3 14 oz cans beef broth)
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
2 TBS ketchup
3 large russet potatoes, peeled
2 large carrots (or 20 baby carrots), peeled
1 yellow onion, peeled
2 TBS butter
If your beef is in large chunks, chop it into small bite sized pieces. Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. Heat the oil on medium-high in a large stock pot and add the meat. Cook the meat several minutes on each side, using tongs to turn individual pieces so that the meat gets nice and brown.
When your beef is well browned, add the Guinness, red wine, beef stock, thyme, bay leaves, and ketchup. Stir well, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pot. Let it simmer an 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While beef is simmering, chop your potatoes and carrots into bite sized pieces, and finely chop the onion. In another pot, melt the butter on medium-high then add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Stir the vegetables to coat them in the butter. Cook the vegetables about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that the vegetables get caramelized. Try and time it so your vegetables finish at the same time that simmering the beef ends.
Add the vegetables to the beef and broth. Simmer it another 20 minutes with the lid on. Ladle the stew into bowls and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
Approximate cost/serving: My beef was only about $2.50. If you buy your meat at the supermarket, my friend Stephanie suggests buying a chuck roast and cutting it into stew meat yourself to save money. The total cost of the stew was $4.90. Ways to make it that cheap are by using a small amount of beef and cutting it into little pieces, and using homemade beef stock rather than store bought. At 8 servings that’s only 62 cents a serving!
Gluten Free: To make this gluten free add extra beef stock in place of the Guinness which is made with barley protein that can cause problems for people who react to gluten.