There's something about cooler weather that brings out the "stew" in us. Cozy dinner-time thoughts evoke longings for hearty, warming meals like thick soups and chunky stews with cooked-for-hours flavor and filling ingredients. While living in Scotland, where the very long winter months hovered in the 30 and 40-degree temperatures or colder (with loads of snow and ice on the ground), I found myself making Guinness Stew quite frequently. It started off as a curious inquisition into creating stews that called for beer. I don't like drinking Guinness, but I can certainly appreciate it's thick consistency and aromatic qualities.
After perusing various recipes I discovered on the Internet, I set about making my own interpretation based on the ingredients I favored and the combinations I figured would best suit our eating habits. (For instance, the first time I made this, I used parsnips—carrot's white cousin. They are bitter and gross! Since then, I have opted out of the called-upon turnips or parsnips that many of the Scottish recipes hailed as quite necessary for a successful stew. Blech.)
I've also learned that many of my dear readers have actually embarked upon the act of recreating my recipes, of which I could not be more flattered. So to make your efforts easier, I've planned to create a click-and-print recipe card for each recipe I post. That way you can get all the ingredients and directions in one fell swoop and whisk it away to your kitchen for happier cooking. ;)
That said, here's your recipe card for my Guinness Stew (just click "show original" in the photo viewer to enlarge and print):
And here are photos and a few extra tidbits I've learned along the way:
When prepping all your ingredients, it helps immensely if you chop your vegetables beforehand so that you need simply throw them in the pot at the opportune moment. Trust me, I've charred my share of beef while trying to dice that last carrot and it ain't tasty!
Stir the beef often while it browns in the pot. A few swirls of EVOO should do you when you're heating the pot over medium-high, then sling in the beef, unsticking any wayward chunks from the sides of the pan.
Once browned, remove the beef (and the subsidiary juices) to a large plate or bowl. Don't discard the juice, it's full of flavor!
Chop up your bacon once you've prepped the veggies. It's totally fine to add a few more pieces if you want a heartier, meatier stew. I get regular ol' bacon, occasionally low-sodium if I've inhaled enough sea salt for the week already. (Love that stuff, put it on everything.) Again, stir this frequently to ensure it browns and crisps evenly.
Some recipes called for whole potatoes, some called for new potatoes, I call for any potatoes. I tend to buy a 1.5 pound bag of the baby golds since the husband loves them taters. I wash them off real good in a colander than chop them into fourths for easy cooking and easier eating.
When it comes time to add the celery, carrots, onion and spices, be sure to throw in those bay leaves too. Dried ones cook and flavor just fine, so don't bust your rump searching for fresh ones in the store if you can't find them. (Dried bay leaves can be found on the cheap in the spice aisle.) Also, sometimes I'm in the mood for a little less onion, so I only used one in this batch of stew.
Bottled Guinness seems to have the best flavor when my husband drinks it, so I tend to buy that when I make the stew. Pour in the whole thing once you've added your potatoes, cooked meat and beef stock to the mix, then let the pot come to a boil. You should have a hearty, heapin' helping of stew going by this point!
The stew bakes in the oven for one glorious hour, allowing those flavors to merge and perfect. Once it's done, you'll make the roux to thicken the stew, as called for in the directions. It'll form a thick, ugly brown mixture with some lumps... just keep whisking it in the pan gently until they're mostly gone. Then you'll dump all the roux into the stew and stir until it's mixed in. It does justice, giving the broth a bit more consistency.
For my bread, I usually slice a couple pieces off a French loaf, spray it with olive oil spray and sprinkle with powdered garlic, ground sea salt and pepper, dried Italian seasonings and shredded mozzarella cheese. I toast it for a couple minutes then pile them onto a plate for the perfect addition to the Guinness stew! (Not pictured here, but it's good. I swear.)
Now get to eating and enjoy, y'all!