Just how did it find its way into that soup? No doubt with a sparkle of Irish inspiration, as it most likely didn’t take Dubliners long to discover the local stout made a great and flavorful addition to stews. Probably minutes after Arthur Guinness released his first brews 250 or so years ago.
Naturally, as Guinness features an almost savory profile that compliments soups nicely, particularly a hearty stew. Such potential wasn’t lost on the people at Cook’s Country, who included a recipe for Guinness Beef Stew in their Cookbook. After the beer goes into the pot, carrots and potatoes are added and the whole mixture simmers away contentedly for a spell, until the veggies, like the roast, are fall-apart tender. Lucky is the kitchen producing such intoxicating aromas, as it has found the perfect means of thawing winter’s grip.
The beer’s yeasty elements cry out for a nice, warm loaf of freshly-baked bread. Fortunately, Ireland has an answer for that too, when it invented soda bread:Sally’s Baking Addiction obliged by providing instructions for re-creating Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread, baked in a cast-iron skillet, just as Grandma suggested. A crusty exterior opens to reveal a light, airy interior that’s perfect for sopping up a thick stew, spreading an intensely satisfying warmth. …or for being slathered with a creamy schmear of softened Kerrygold butter, as featured in this week’s feature photo.
Happiness at every turn. A rich, savory stew, thick with fork-tender potatoes, carrots and beef. Flaky yet tender bread, still steaming from the oven, begging to take up a flavorful broth, or to have creamy butter melt into every nook and cranny. Yes, yes and yes! Perfect! Why can’t it be January forever? Or is that just the Guinness talking?
Guinness Beef Stew
- 4-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-and-1/2 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped finely (*1)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 and 1/4 cups Guinness Draught (*2)
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 and 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (*3)
Remove all but the lowest rack from the oven, then pre-heat it to 325°. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Place a stockpot over a medium-high flame and pour in the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they’re browned, about ten minutes.
Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about two minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute longer. Whisk in the broth, 3/4 cup of the Guinness, the sugar and the thyme, scraping up browned bits from the pot’s bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and return to a simmer.
Transfer stockpot to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 90 minutes, stirring halfway through. Stir in the potatoes and carrots and continue cooing for another hour, again, stirring halfway through.
Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of Guinness (*4), season with salt and freshly-ground pepper and serve.
1 – Instead, try three large shallots. Better this way. Promise.
2 – Use the Draught variety, as Extra Stout would be too bitter.
3 – Wouldn’t cilantro be less bitter too? Why, yes it would!
4 – If you haven’t drunk it already. If so, open another bottle. That’s quite a penalty, right?
Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread
- 1 and 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 4 and 1/4 cups flour, plus more for working dough
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled (*4)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Use a seasoned cast-iron skillet, or grease a cake pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the buttermilk and the egg. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with your hands, a fork, or a pastry cutter. The dough should form coarse crumbs, the idea being to work it as little as possible, keeping the butter as cold as you can.
Pour in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the dough together until it becomes too stiff to work. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and, using floured hands, knead it two or three times, then form it into a 9-inch round loaf. Place this in the pan, and, using a sharp knife, score an “X” into the top.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool on a rack for ten minutes before slicing.
4 – The colder the butter, the airier the bread will be. Consequently, I stuck the butter in the freezer for half an hour before using it, which froze it solid. It’ll thaw just enough while you’re cutting it into the flour, yet it still will remain cold enough to be of culinary benefit.