Fall weather means time for stew. A rich, satisfying Guinness Beef Stew is a perfect dinner for chilly November, when evenings grow darker, and the body seeks comfort food. This is Irish comfort food at its best.
My recipe for beef stew cooks slowly in a crockpot for many hours, allowing its distinctive flavors meld together. I call this American-Irish fusion food, since very few Irish people have ever laid eyes on a crock pot. Once I discovered this amazing kitchen appliance, I became a fan. My husband now calls me “The Crockpot Crackpot”.
The stew ingredients are pictured here, minus the flour, corn starch and oil for frying the beef. Here is the complete list:
Ingredients for Irish Guinness Beef Stew:
- 2 pounds stewing beef (well trimmed and cut into one inch cubes)
- 1/2 cup flour (for coating the beef)
- Salt and pepper (to season dredging flour)
- 2 – 4 tablespoons canola oil (for pre-cooking the beef)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups frozen pearl onions (about 12 oz package)
- 2 to 3 parsnips (julienned)
- 16 oz. baby carrots (1 packet)
- 2 pounds red potatoes (quartered)
- 1 and 1/4 cups Guinness stout (1 bottle (11 oz))
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons corn starch (for thickening stew at end of cooking)
- 1/4 cup beef broth (to mix with corn starch to thicken stew)
Prepare the vegetables by cutting the parsnips into strips the same length as the baby carrots. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths depending upon the size of the potato. I leave skins on red potatoes. I think they add texture and flavor.
I use a package of pearl onions rather than dicing a large onion and pre-frying it. My husband does not like the texture of onions, so when I use pearl onions I can easily remove them from his serving, without having to sacrifice their delicious flavor.
Dump all of the vegetables into a crock pot. I use a large 7-quart crock pot for this recipe. If your crock pot is smaller you will need to halve the ingredients.
Season the flour with salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Toss in the beef and dredge in the flour, coating each individual beef chunk.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add half of the beef and brown on all sides. This takes 2 to 3 minutes per side, sealing in all the lovely juices and beef flavor. Dump the beef on top of the vegetables in the crock pot and repeat with the second half of the beef.
Pour 1 cup of beef broth into a small measuring pitcher. Add the red wine vinegar and dijon mustard. Mix well together.
Brown the garlic in the same pan as used for the beef. I use pre-minced garlic in oil from a jar, but feel free to peel and mince fresh garlic cloves. Next, pour in the broth, vinegar and mustard mixture, stirring to lift any pieces of beef or garlic from the bottom of the pan. Heat for one minute while stirring. Pour the mixture over the beef and vegetables in the crock pot.
Add the thyme, bay leaves and ground cloves to the crock pot mixture.
Add the bittersweet chocolate chips and brown sugar. For convenience, I use chocolate chips rather than chopping squares from a bar of dark chocolate. True Irish recipes for Guinness stew do not add chocolate, but this is a fusion recipe I created. I find chocolate is wonderful for counteracting the bitter
Add the Guinness to the crock pot, together with the beef stock and water. You can leave out the water and substitute with an additional cup of beef broth, but I find a little bit of water, prevents the flavors being overly intense.
I do believe Guinness is the only option for this stew, unless you live in Ireland and can get your hands on a bottle of Murphy’s stout instead. Any American dark ales or stouts lack the distinctive flavor of Irish stout. Rest assured, the folks at Guinness have never heard of me. I am just Irish and love the flavor of real Guinness in this stew.
Put the lid on the crock pot, and simmer on the low setting for 10 to 12 hours. I know this is not a very accurate time measurement, but all crock pots are different. The stew is done when the vegetables are tender. Check the potatoes too. They are the last to fully soften. Try to avoid lifting the lid of the crock pot too often during cooking. When heat escapes, cooking time is extended.
When the meat and vegetables are cooked through, mix 2 tablespoons of corn starch with about 1/4 cup of cold beef broth. Make sure the broth is cold, since hot liquid will make corn starch clump. Mix them well together, ensuring the liquid is smooth.
This stew can be thickened with regular flour in stead of corn starch, but I find it takes longer to fully cook the added flour. I much prefer corn starch, for easy thickening.
Add the blended corn starch and broth to the stew in the crock pot. Mix well and let heat on high for a further 20 minutes. Stir occasionally during this time.
Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving. Ladle into a large bowl. Guinness beef stew is delicious accompanied by Irish Brown Bread.
This stew is lick your lips good. It tastes even better a day or two after cooking, so it is perfect for left overs. It also freezes really well.
Here is a printable version of this recipe.
Happy crock pot cooking and enjoy.
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Slán agus beannacht!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom