Meaty goodness with an Irish twist
On St. Patrick’s Day we’re all Irish – and we want to celebrate. So how about some hearty Guinness Beef Stew?
It’s a great dish for entertaining. Because you braise the beef slowly, most of the prep work will be done hours before you need to serve. You can even make this dish a day ahead, then reheat it – the flavor will only get better.
In fact, it will have more flavor than you can shake a shillelagh at.
Recipe: Guinness Beef Stew
This dish is made like any stew, except you’ll use Guinness to replace some of the liquid.
Prep time for this recipe is about half an hour. Cooking time adds 2 to 3 hours, most of it unattended.
Leftovers keep well for a day or two if refrigerated in an airtight container (in fact, we often make this a day before we want to serve it). You can also freeze the leftovers for a month or two.
This recipe yields enough for about 8 servings.
- ~3 pounds boneless chuck roast (or any stewing meat; see Notes)
- salt for seasoning the beef (to taste – which is a teaspoon or so of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or other oil (as needed for browning the meat)
- ~1 cup beef stock
- 1 large onion
- 2 to 3 ribs celery
- 8 to 10 ounces carrots (maybe 5 large ones)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1½ pounds potatoes (we prefer boiling-style potatoes)
- additional 1 tablespoon olive oil (for sautéing the veggies)
- additional salt to taste (several large pinches; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ~20 ounces Guinness stout (a bit more or less is fine)
- additional 1 cup beef stock
- 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (very optional; see Step 11)
- ~3 tablespoons corn starch for thickening the stew (optional)
- chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Using paper towels (or a kitchen towel), pat the beef until it’s totally dry. Cut the beef into largish chunks of about 2 to 3 inches square (or smaller if you prefer). Season to taste with salt.
- Heat a large frying pan. When it’s hot, add enough oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add as many chunks of beef as will comfortably fit in the pan (don’t crowd the pieces – you may have to brown the beef in 2 or more batches; see Notes). Cook the beef until the first side is browned (about 4 minutes), then turn the chunks and brown the other side. When the beef chunks are browned, remove them to a plate lined with a paper towel. After all the beef is browned, use a paper towel to wipe off any oil remaining in the pan. Then add about a cup of beef stock and deglaze the pan (scrape up any bits of meat that may have stuck to the bottom). Set the frying pan (with the beef stock) aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Peel the onion and cut it into ½ inch dice. Set aside.
- Wash and peel the celery, then cut it into pieces of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the carrots, trim their ends, then cut them into rounds (or half rounds) of 1 to 3 inches (whatever size you prefer). Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Wash the potatoes, peel them, and cut them into chunks of an inch or two. Set aside.
- Place a large Dutch oven (or other wide-bottomed cooking pot) on medium stovetop heat. When the pot is heated, add the oil. When the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion. Season to taste with salt. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chopped celery and carrots. Add another dash of salt, then sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the tomato paste and thyme. Cook – stirring often – for 2 minutes.
- Add the browned beef pieces and the potato chunks to the cooking pot. Add the Guinness and the beef stock (along with the beef stock from deglazing in Step 2). Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the cooking pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the beef is tender.
- Remove the beef stew from the oven. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the sauce seems bitter to you, stir in the brown sugar. If you want to thicken the sauce, mix the corn starch with an equal amount of cold water (or Guinness!); stir the corn-starch mixture into the pot of stew.
- Serve. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
- As is the case with many stews, you can easily adjust ingredient quantities to taste in this dish.
- Don’t try to fit too many pieces of beef in the frying pan at once. If you do, the chunks will steam instead of browning.
- We’ve seen recipes that add half the Guinness to the cooking pot at the beginning and the rest shortly before serving. The idea is to give the stew more “Guinness” taste (the flavor of stout does mellow quite a bit as it cooks). We don’t bother with this. Instead, we just serve the stew with Guinness as a side beverage. Full flavor!
- You can leave out the chunked potatoes if you like and instead serve the stew over a bed of mashed potatoes. In that case, we suggest that you definitely thicken the sauce with corn starch (Step 11).
- Chuck roast has good flavor and it’s the cut we like to use for braising. But any cut of beef that benefits from long, slow cooking works in this dish (such as top round). BTW, it’s cheaper to cut up the meat yourself rather than buying pre-cut “stew meat” at your butcher’s.
- Cutting up the meat yourself also means you can cut it to the size you prefer. We like to use large chunks of beef in a dish like this – we think they make for a more attractive serving size. After braising, the pieces will be tender enough that you don’t need a knife to cut them – a fork will be sufficient.
- Some cooks like to dredge the beef chunks in flour before browning. We don’t, but it does add some extra flavor, and of course helps thicken the sauce.
- You could substitute another brand of stout for Guinness if you want. But Guinness is so good that it’s the only brand of stout we ever buy.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- When cooking a recipe like this one, we always salt the veggies at the beginning. By salting early, we find that we often end up using much less salt than if we add it after the dish is cooked.
- Want extra flavor? Try bacon. We sometimes brown a few slices of bacon, then use the fat to brown the meat and veggies (and then add the bacon to the dish). Salt pork would work too (simmer it in water for about 10 minutes first to draw out some of the salt; then dry it off and brown it).
- The crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when you brown meat (Step 2) has a lot of flavor. That’s why we call for deglazing the pan with liquid to release the crust (so you can add it to the dish).
- Should you eat this dish with a fork or a spoon? We vote for both! If you cut the meat into large chunks, as we suggest, you’ll definitely need a fork. But you’ll also want a spoon to slurp up all that lovely sauce.
“Mmmm!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Yummacious.”
“Don’t know why we only have this dish around March 17,” I said. “We should probably declare it to be St. Patrick’s Day more often. Like maybe once a month.”
“Good idea,” said Mrs K R. “I wouldn’t get in a stew over that.”
Of course, I’ll have to step in and finish the leftover Guinness when we make this. Ours is a rocky road to Dublin.
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