Saint Patrick’s Day is on a Monday this year, which essentially means that it encompasses an entire weekend. My feeling on St. Patrick’s Day has always been that if you enjoy Guinness, you’re probably drinking it year round. If you don’t like it to begin with, you’re still not going to like it after four of them no matter how loud they’ve turned up the Chieftains in the pub. Besides which, that’s when the novelty shots made with Bailey’s start making an appearance. You’re best off at home.
One of the best things you can do with stout is put it in a stew. The dry, bitter, practically burnt flavour that you get in a stout is because the brewers use roasted barley. They take the grain and kiln it like coffee beans, so that it blackens. It provides colour, but also the same flavour range you get from the fond at the bottom of the pan when you’re browning meat and vegetables. If you use stout as a liquid in your stew, you get dark, complex flavours without overcooking the individual ingredients that go into the pot.
Here’s a favourite recipe of mine that uses Guinness. Hope you also enjoy it!
Irish Beef Stew
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 lbs inside round cut beef into manageably bite sized pieces
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 2 parnsips, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp of thyme
- 1/2 tsp of rosemary
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 anchovy filets (entirely optional)
- Equal parts stout and beef stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat oil until shimmering and brown your meat in batches, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once browned, remove and reserve on a nearby plate. To the pot, add onions, carrots and parsnips. Once the onions are translucent add the spices, tomato paste and anchovy filets, stirring to ensure everything is incorporated. Reintroduce the beef to the pot and add equal parts stout and beef stock to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in an oven at 250 C for three hours. Drink whatever stout is left while you wait. Maybe watch The Quiet Man on cable.
You will notice that this version of an Irish Beef Stew does not contain potatoes. They are best cooked separately so that they don’t get all mushy. Serve the stew over them once they’re fork tender. The anchovies are optional, but worth trying as the umami base they provide makes the beef taste beefier.
The stout you choose greatly affects the flavour. When you cook with beer, the liquid reduces and the flavour concentrates. Guinness will become slightly more roasted and emphasize pan flavours. A slightly sweeter stout like Brooklyn Dry Irish stout will round out the sweetness of the carrots and parsnips. Mill Street Cobblestone is a good all-rounder for this purpose.
Jordan St.John writes about beer and sometimes food at saintjohnswort.ca. His family was Irish 200 years ago, but he doesn’t make a big deal about it.