Irish Stout Beef Stew

After the success of my Steak and Guinness Pie a couple of months ago, I decided to have another go at a beer-based meat stew.  Despite our warm weather over the past couple of weeks, this weekend turned cold and windy.  A hearty stew was just the thing for a chilly Saturday night.

What I like about this stew is that it does not require you to brown your meat before adding the other ingredients.  I know, I know…browning the meat provides all kinds of added flavor loveliness.  You’re right.  And if you want to brown your meat before adding the other ingredients in this recipe, go ahead.  I briefly entertained the idea of doing that myself, but let’s be honest–“Two and a Half Men” was on and it was an episode I hadn’t seen.

I followed the recipe as is, with the exception of the potatoes and the herbs.  The original recipe from the bitten word called for 2.5 pounds of potatoes.  Now, since I am trying to purchase as many organic and natural foods from Whole Foods Market as possible, I simple could not afford 2.5 pounds of organic potatoes.  However, carrots were on sale yesterday, and we all know that carrots are lovely in a nice beef stew.  So, I ended up with 1.25 lbs potatoes and 1.25 pounds carrots.  Yes, I weighed them in those little grocery scales.  I am a stickler for accuracy.

For the herbs, I added the thyme and the bay.  The original recipe had no herbs.  Le gasp!  I simply couldn’t let that go, so in went the thyme and the bay.  I considered sage as well, but ultimately decided against it as I did not want to overpower the main attraction: GUINNESS.

This is the second dish I have made using Guinness.  As a beverage, I detest Guinness and all similarly chewy beers.  I prefer to feel refreshed after I take a drink of something, not as though I’ve pureed a loaf of bread in the blender and drank it through a bendy straw.  But I digress.  This stew is absolutely yummy.  The 3 hours of prep and cook time are well worth it.  For one thing, it makes your house smell incredible.  For another, the resulting stew is thick, rich, velvety, and filled with chunks of tender meat and veggies.  It is not as dark and savory as the Steak and Guinness Pie; it’s a milder, comforting stew to which one could easily return for seconds (or thirds).  I will add one comment of comparison though.  The Steak and Guinness Pie included bacon, which was rendered prior to assembling the stew.  The bacon and drippings were added to the stew with the other ingredients, before assembling the pie.  You will note that this stew recipe contains no bacon.  While I have no complaints at all about the flavor of this stew, I have to wonder…could bacon make it better?  (Probably.  Bacon makes everything better.)  The next time I make this recipe, I’m going to add some bacon just to satisfy my curiosity.

Also, please don’t stress about the ounce measurements you see below.  The original recipe had all kinds of amounts like “2 14.5-ounce cans of X” and that just didn’t work for me.  Not everyone can access the same cans and packages, so I simplified it.  If you need a refresher in liquid measurements, one cup is 8 fluid ounces.  Therefore, 1/8 of a cup is 1 ounce.  If you have a set of decent measuring cups, it should be fairly easy to measure out what you need.  Measuring by ounces is helpful if you purchase some things such as stocks and broths in larger bulk quantities like I do.

This stew is best served with some form of crusty bread.  Considering that I was making this for a dinner with my mother-in-law, I went full-throttle with homemade dinner rolls.  Delish.

Since my digital camera was MIA last night when I made this stew, I will leave you instead with this awesome picture of some veggies who are really happy to be part of Guinness stew.

Irish Stout Beef Stew
Adapted from the bitten word, who adapted from Everyday Food
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
1 1/4 lbs red and yellow skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 1/4 lbs carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
29 oz reduced-sodium beef broth
15 oz Irish stout beer
10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
3 small dried bay leaves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
About 3 cups of frozen peas (1 16-ounce package), more if you really like peas

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, toss beef with flour; stir in tomato paste.

Add potatoes, carrots, onions, broth, beer, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Transfer pot to oven, and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, and season with salt and pepper.

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