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Beef and Guinness

Published in Amherst Citizen - March 28, 2000

I was trying to remember some of the meals we used to eat on my aunt's farm in Southern Ireland. Even though I spent many summers there, the mind plays tricks and I can only remember silly things. I remember picking the mushrooms fresh from the river field each day for breakfast, while the cows where being milked.

This is a modern variation on beef stew. In the old days in Ireland, Guinness would only have been available on draft not bottle or canned and I really can't see any housewife dreaming of using Guinness in her cooking. However, since most European countries use beer in beef stews, why shouldn't we with Guinness. This makes a really rich dark stew. Feel free to add turnip, barley etc but don't cut down on the onions and carrots. It was the excellence of the fresh produce that would make the food so delicious.

Ingredients

- 2 lb. boneless chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2" pieces
- 2 tbsp. flour
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. oil (originally housewives would have kept the fat from roasts and cooking bacon [dripping] and used this for frying which would have increased the flavor.)
- 4 slices of bacon scissored into thin strips
- 1 lb. onions, choose enough small, yellow or white onions for one per person, peel and leave whole or yellow onions cut in thick slices
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut in thick chunks (for a party use whole baby carrots for appearance)
- 1 leek, cleaned and cut into thick chunks (optional)
- 1 x 14 oz can of Guinness
- 1 tbsp. sugar (to counteract bitterness of beer)
- 1½ c water plus beef concentrate - OR 1½ c beef stock
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried.
- ½ lb. small mushrooms, cleaned and left whole. (if you use Portabella in chunks the flavor will be even more authentic like the fresh mushrooms we used to gather in Ireland).

Method

1. Heat oil in large skillet. Add salt and pepper to flour and toss beef cubes in flour until evenly covered.

2. Fry cubes a few at a time until sealed and browned. Do not crowd pan with meat as it will steam and not brown.

3. Remove meat as it browns and place in ovenproof casserole dish.

4. Add bacon strips to skillet and cook until fat starts running. Add onions, carrots and leeks and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until onions are browning on edges. Place in casserole dish on top of meat.

5. Add Guinness, water and beef concentrate to pan and stir up all loose bits. Add sugar and pour over beef and vegetables. Add thyme.

6. Put lid on casserole dish. If lid is not tight fitting, place a sheet of foil between dish and lid so moisture does not evaporate. Bake in a 350° oven for 2-3 hours until meat is tender, or in a slow cooker. ½ hour before end of cooking, add mushrooms. If sauce seems too thin, mix 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water and stir into stew at same time as mushrooms. (The flour around beef at beginning should have thickened the sauce during cooking, but mushrooms will thin it again)

7. Serve with russet or Idaho potatoes boiled in the jackets and split open for serving with butter or with Irish Soda Bread.

Here's a seasonal Irish joke that you might like. :-)


Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers a Personal Chef service, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, and makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
 

Send your questions or comments to CookingWithOonagh@yahoo.com
Last modified: April 17, 2000
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