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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Irish Guinness Stew

Inspiration:  Helping out a friend for an upcoming St-Patrick's day celebration 🍀 and for my Irish husband (who really enjoyed this).

The addition of some coffee and dark bittersweet chocolate helps to bring out the roasted flavours of the guinness beer in this recipe - otherwise its flavour is almost all lost in the cooking process.  The result is a rich, velvety and shiny gravy with so much flavour.  A little maple syrup is added at the very end for balance - we are Irish Canadian after all!  The veggies are cooked separately, glazed and added at the end in order to preserve their texture and flavour.  A few different cuts of beef were tried to test the texture of the meat and a boneless cross rib roast yielded a perfect, tender, flavourful bite.   You have never had stew this good!  Serve with some traditional soda bread or some Guinness bread.  I hope you enjoy!

Time:  Active time:  about 1 hour, cooking time:  2 1/2 hours, cost of this recipe:  about $25

Irish Guinness Stew: Makes 6 portions

How to make it:

  • 1kg (2.2lbs) of boneless cross rib roast or chuck tender (if you can get it)
  • 2T (30ml) of oil
  • 1T (15g) of butter
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in 4 large pieces
  • 1 celery rib with leaves, cleaned and cut in 4 large pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small leek, tip trimmed, white and light green part, cut in 4 large pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
  • 1 can (440ml) of Guinness beer
  • 1 can (284ml) of demi-glace sauce
  • 1T (15ml) of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2T (30ml) of espresso coffee
  • 20g (4 squares - 3/4 oz) of dark chocolate (Camino Panama Extra Dark 80% - red wrapper)
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 branch of fresh rosemary
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Another 5 medium carrots
  • 4 medium sized parsnips
  • 3 medium sized potatoes
  • 2T (15g) of cornstarch + 2T (30ml) of water
  • 1T (15ml) maple syrup
  • 1T (15g) of cold butter
  • Fresh parsley and fried onion as garnish

Remove most of the fat and large connective tissue from the meat. Cut in 4 large pieces.

Place the oil (2T - 30ml) and the butter (1T - 15g) in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the meat on all sides and remove from pan.  

Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving 1T - 15ml, and return to the heat. Add the mirepoix vegetables (large pieces of carrot, celery, leek, whole garlic clove and onion). Cook, stirring for about one minute, while scraping the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan to allow steam to form for 1 minute. Remove cover and continue to sweat the vegetables for another minute.  (If at any time you feel the glazed meat juices are browning too much, quickly add the beer - you want to avoid burning them).

Add the guinness beer (1 can - 440ml) and boil for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly to remove all the glazed meat juice and add the demi-glace (1 can - 284ml). Add the thyme (5 sprigs), rosemary (1/2 branch)  and bay leaf (1) and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the coffee (2T -15ml), the chocolate (20g -4 squares) and the Worcestershire sauce (1T - 15ml), stirring to combine and allowing sauce to gently simmer.

In the meantime, cut the meat in large bite-sized 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces (they will shrink a little while cooking) and generously season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Return the meat to the pot making sure it is completely submerged in the liquid. Bring to a gentle boil and cover. Cook the meat for 2 hours, checking every half-hour to skim any foam off the surface and to stir the solids, pressing them down into the liquid. Make sure the temperature stays constant - you should maintain a gentle boil during the whole process.

While the meat is cooking, prepare and cook the vegetables to add later to the stew. Cooking them separately will help to maintain their individual flavours and textures.  

Peel and cut the carrots (5 medium) and the parsnip (4 medium) in 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Cut the thinner part longer and the thicker parts smaller.  

Place the carrots and parsnips in a high sided pan with 1 cup of water, 1T (15g) of butter and 1/4t of salt over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and cover, leaving the lid slightly open to allow the water to evaporate.  

Check the vegetables regularly with a sharp knife to see at what stage of cooking they are at. Some vegetables may cook faster than others. You want to cook them in the water until the are 3/4 cooked. They will finish cooking in the butter glazing process at the end. If you feel some are almost ready, remove them from the pan to allow the bigger pieces to continue cooking. If you need to add more water because some of vegetables are still quite hard, add another 1/2 cup of water. Continue this until all the vegetables are all almost cooked and you are left with just the butter in the pan. Return all the vegetables into the pan and cook in the butter, allowing them to glaze and caramelize slightly. Do this until they are tender and fully cooked. Set aside.

When there is one half hour remaining for the cooking of the meat, peel and cut the potatoes (3 medium) in 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces.  Boil until tender. Drain and reserve.

After 2 hours, check to see if the meat is cooked. It should be fork tender. If it's ready, remove the meat pieces from the pot and strain the remaining liquid and vegetables into a bowl. Press firmly on the solids to extract as much of the sauce as possible.

You will be left with about 4 cups of sauce. Return the sauce to the pot, over medium high heat and reduce for 12 minutes until you have 3 cups of sauce left.  

Mix 2T (15g) of cornstarch and 2T (30ml)  of water in a small bowl. Add to the sauce to thicken it. Boil for 1 minute.  Add the maple syrup (1T - 15ml) and stir to combine. Finally, add the cold butter (1T - 15g) and swirl into the liquid by moving the pot in circles directly on the burner (this will create and emulsion and thicken the sauce slightly as well as adding shine). Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Allow the sauce to cool for about 20 minutes. Return the meat and vegetables to the sauce and stir to coat. Reheat gently when ready to serve keeping in mind that it is always best eaten the next day. Once cooled, the stew can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days. 

Garnish with fried onions for a little crunch and parsley leaves for a little Irish green. Enjoy!

I made some quick onion rings (marinate in buttermilk for 1hr, coat in seasoned flour and fry at 350°F - 170°C).  Garnish with some flat leafed parsley and micro-greens for colour.  

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