Beef and Guinness Stew

Beef and Guinness Stew

Classic Irish dish for those winter evenings. Sort of an Irish version of the French daube, with our national tipple replacing the red wine. There’s nothing at all complicated about this stew and it tastes so good. I urge you to give it a try. There’s a slight twist in this recipe, which I based on one in Darina Allen’s Simply Delicious 2 book. A spoon of mustard and a small strip of orange peel add complexity and aroma to the dish. You don’t have to use Guinness: any stout will do. The only change you need to make is to adjust the amount of sugar: Murphy is a little sweeter and will need less. In fact, Guiness is probably the most bitter of the common stouts, so the amount of sugar in the recipe is an upper limit. I suggest using a heavy flameproof casserole such as Le Creuset and finishing the stew in a low oven, but if you don’t have one, you can use a frying pan and a simple ovenproof dish. Failing this you can make the whole dish on top of the stove in a big pot, finishing over a very low heat. If possible, don’t use a teflon pan for sealing the meat, as the little bits that stick to the bottom of the pan add great depth to the overall flavour. This dish can be reheated the next day: in fact, many would say the flavour improves overnight.

Summary

Makes: 4 very good portions
Preparation: 30mins
Cooking: 2 hours

Ingredients

1kg
~750ml
3
4
2 r. tbsp
2 tsp
2 r. tsp
Stewing beef (not absolutely lean!)
Guinness or other stout
Onions
Medium carrots
Tomato paste
Mustard powder (or 2 tsp (rounded) made-up mustard)
Sugar
Salt
Pepper
Small strip orange peel (max 1cm long if waxed)
Bouquet garni (bay, thyme, parsley stalks)
Olive oil (even better ghee or clarified butter)
Flour
Parsley 

25cm flameproof casserole or similar

Note

Ideally you should use peel from an unwaxed orange. In such cases you can use a good amount: 2 or 3cm is no problem. However, if you can only get waxed oranges, then you need much less, at most 1cm. Even then, scrub the surface of the orange under boiling water first. Otherwise the flavour will totally dominate the dish.

Method

Cut the meat into nice-sized chunks (about 2cm), trimming any obvious fat. Slice the onions thinly. Season the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Put the casserole over a medium to high heat. Add oil to cover the bottom. When hot, add enough meat to form one layer. Don’t overcrowd the pot: it’s better to do several batches. Leave the meat to brown on all sides. Try to resist the temptation to continually push to meat around: we want it to brown nicely. Transfer to a dish and repeat until all the meat is sealed. You should have some nice golden brown bits of meat and flour stuck to the bottom by now. That’s OK as it will add flavour later. Next, drop the heat to low and add the onions and a little more oil. Fry until they start to colour, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn.

When the onions are ready, bring up the heat and add enough of the Guinness to deglaze the pot, making sure you free all the caramelised bits. Add about 750ml of the Guinness and let it bubble uncovered for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol. Then stir in the tomato paste, mustard and sugar. Return the meat and any juices to the pot. Tuck in the bouquet garni and the orange peel. You may need to add a litte more Guinness to just cover the meat.  Stir everything together and adjust the seasoning. When the pot comes back to the boil, cover and place in a prewarmed oven set to 150°C.

After about 1 hour, slice the peeled carrots to around 5mm and stir into the pot. Another hour or so later, the meat should be beautifully tender, the carrots cooked and the stew lovely and thick. Remove the bouquet garni and the orange peel. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and sprinke with some chopped parsely. Serve accompanied by some plain boiled potatoes or good bread. Enjoy!