My Goodness, My Guinness!


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:Soda BreadSally’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.

NOTES:

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.

NOTES:

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.

25 thoughts on “My Goodness, My Guinness!

    1. Thank you, Tamara!

      The “comforting” part is by design, as we all can use a nice soft blanket to keep us until spring returns. The recipes certainly will work in July, but amidst January’s snows, that embrace is all the warmer.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Who doesn’t love a savory stew? Especially in the winter! 😋
    I do have to admit that I only tried Guinness once and I thought it was just one of the nastiest things I ever dared to ingest. I’m sure that imbibed in a flavorful stew the taste would be quite different. I don’t really like beer in general but I find that beer pancakes are pretty darned delicious. Perhaps it would be a similar kind of thing. 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice, Adora, thank you! Have to say, I really appreciate your culinary adventurousness. Too many would’ve proclaimed, “I hate beer!” and turned their backs. Not you, though.

      Actually, you aren’t the first person I’ve met who isn’t a big fan of the suds. Fair enough, as I feel the same way about hard liquor, which to me all tastes like Robitussin. Still, you’ll see it, along with beer and lots and lots of wine, in a more than a few dishes here.

      For one thing, and the most obvious factor being, the alcohol evaporates early, thus changing the booze’s taste profile. Plus, there’s a huge difference between trying something straight-up and all by its lonesome, and in sampling its subtle interaction with dozens of different ingredients. Case in point, for me, is rum. By itself, it makes me gag. Literally. Yet, lacing a coconut pound cake, divine!

      As for the beef stew, thanks for the optimism, Adora. Timing is everything after all, thus it was no accident I watched the snow swirling outside when I hit “Post.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the only beef stew that has nearly rivaled my own. Having said that, I will borrow your beer idea and add some in the next time I make my stew. My question however is, does the beer have to be strictly Guinness?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Angela!

      As for the beer, any sort of yeasty, hearty brew will work well. Actually, most other kinds of beers will do It’s not as though the recipe takes massive volumes, and any variation will be obvious. In reality, the exact opposite is true.

      The only reason I chose Guinness is that this is an Irish stew. Note the soda bread too. Thus, Dublin’s Own was a good match. Choose some other label and you won’t have to deal with an angry leprechaun. I promise.

      You mention your own stew, and that intrigues me. Do you add anything that gives it a special, or surprising, twist? Is it something you prepare frequently when the chill descends, or do you save it for more special occasions? More details…please.

      Like

      1. Ah, good to know that any beer works just fine. I make my stew once a week, it’s very popular in my household. Haha. I think the secret to my stew is lots of onions, I mean LOTS! but by the time I am done cooking, you will not see a single slice of onion, because it would be all cooked in the stew, giving it a thick texture. Potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, PAPRIKA, turmeric, chili powder, and the smallest amount of curry. That’s it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, Angela, that may be “it,” but anything more would overturn the balance you’ve set. You’ve made it once a week for so long now, you’ve refined the ingredient list, no doubt, to the perfect proportions.

        Thus, any recipe isn’t a definitive, final document, but rather, a step along the path. A journey we improve as we go.

        We often hear people complain that, along civilization’s millennia, everything’s been tried already. Thus we merely copy what others have done. Not true. Yes, there’s much to inspire us, but we all add our own personal touches. Improvements which keep alive the original idea. Often, in fact, those changes become the new standard.

        Oh, I love how the onions end up blending into your stew! Did you ever see the movie “Goodfellas?” If not, my reference will make no sense, though it reminds me of the scene in which the Mafia capo is making tomato sauce and he uses a razor blade to slice the garlic so thin, it dissolves when cooked. Sounds like you achieved the same thing, Angela, except without razor blades and without, you know, all the mobster stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lol. I think I have watched that movie. Deniro and co.? haha.
        I agree with you about everyone bringing something new to the table, although inspiration from the past, plays a significant role in the process.
        “Balance” is key, Keith. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Uh huh, Angela. That’s the one…you got it!

        Oh, and when you think about it, that same process – constant tinkering – is common to every human endeavor, not just to cooking. We make changes, some minor and others not so, to what our ancestors gave us. In turn, our descendants will improve on what we leave them. And so on, and so on…

        It’s not that those along any step of the way are wrong or stupid. It’s just that circumstances change and innovation, well, it always happens! What our ancestors do give us are the vital principles that endure. Our latest adjustments only supplement them and keep them strong.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this before dinner is not a good idea. My stomach is growling! A good beef stew is hard to beat. I will have to suffice, though, with the nice chicken salad that is in my fridge right now!

    I’ve been hearing all about this Kerrygold butter. I’m going to have to try it and see how it compares to regular old store butter. I’m sure the comparison won’t be too close.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apologies, JoAnn. I just finished a potful when I sat down to write the article, though I didn’t consider the words’ effect of those not so provisioned.

      The entire week prior, though, the salad I brought for lunch was in sad contrast to dreams of that weekend’s stew. Thus, your trip to the fridge probably rang as hollow as did my lunch hours!

      Sure, Kerrygold is good, and definitely is a worthy splurge once in a while, but it’s not quite life-changing. For that, apparently, I’d have to spring for something called Plugra, an ultra-boutique European variety. Of course, I only have heard about this from friends in Boston, and it’s unclear weather the buzz comes from the butter itself, or from realizing you could’ve had a European vacation for the same price.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha 😂

        I never heard of Plugra so I googled it. They sell it here in locally… now I have to try it. Doesn’t look too expensive unless your Boston friends are using a special kind 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Could be, JoAnn!

        One thing that really surprised me about Boston is that, for as much of a foodie town as it is, their general grocery stores, well, suck. Instead, anything fancier than meat, taters and generic is for the “specialty” shops only. Now those, the boutique markets, proliferate. More so than in any other city, except, perhaps, for New York and San Francisco.

        What this means – and it sure took me a long time to get to the point, didn’t it? – is that my Bay State pals probably spied Plugra at a fancy, pinky-up place. You know, the kind of store that can get away with charging $18 for a pound of butter. I suspect you may have better luck in Orlando.

        By the way, and we likely discussed this before, I really liked Publix, at least the ones I visited when my grandparents still lived in Florida. My own local grocery store is vast and is decidedly upscale, and with inventories to match. However, that combination makes it something of a standout, whereas every Publix I visited (at least those in the greater Daytona/Port Orange area) was at that level. As I said, most impressive.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Publix is great… they are well known around here for their excellent fresh food… produce, deli. It’s also a great place to find those rare items you can’t always find in other grocery stores. I don’t think I’ve been to a bad Publix so they have consistency going for them, too.

        I will take your word for it when it comes to Boston. All I’ve seen of it is from an airport window during a layover once. That being said, I now find myself thinking about Boston baked beans and Boston cream pies. 😋

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s cool, JoAnn! Obviously, then, it wasn’t just my grandparents’ area that had good Publix stores; they’re that good everywhere. Years before they started appearing Up North here, I bought my first key limes at a Publix.

        Alas, Boston’s lame general-purpose grocery stores have made me bitter. When I was up there, I wanted to get some Dancing Deer cookies for someone back home. Specifically, certain flavors among the forty or so Dancing Deer bakes. I figured, Dancing Deer is a Boston company, thus the local grocery stores are going to have their cookies by the aisle.

        Nope. It turns out, most grocery stores have only two or three varieties, and the most tired, predictable flavors at that. Seems, if I wanted anything more, I was going to have to find a “specialty” grocer. Seriously? What the h***, Boston? What the h***?

        See, JoAnn? As I said, I’m bitter!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Using the lack of Dancing Deer cookies, a Boston favorite it seems, to judge a store’s worth is perfectly logical to me. I believe it used be that way in Florida with oranges and alligators. Unfortunately the orange market has been in serious decline and alligators… well… too much cute alligator merchandise might not have been a good thing. How is a person expected to take them seriously… until of course the unthinkable happens!

        What does this leave us with… hmm… there’s really not enough wheelchair/scooter-themed merchandise. T-shirts, keychains, lunchboxes, etc.

        Then again that might not be the best idea either… coconuts… coconuts will save us!!! 😋

        I do hope you find a way to deal with this bitterness. I looked up those dancing deer cookies as I’d never heard of them. They must be awesome… looks pricey!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I know, JoAnn, seriously! I skipped most of the touristy souvenirs, settling for a cookbook (of course) from the Bull & Finch, the real-life bar on which “Cheers” was based, a small framed print from Faneuil Hall and a magnet from the John Hancock Building. The only other thing I asked for were a couple boxes of frikkin’ Dancing Deer cookies. Nothing doing. Boston supermarkets, you suck!

        As for Florida, we noted before the frost line keeps creeping south. Oranges were cultivated around Jacksonville in 1900, and now you have to go all the way down to Miami to find areas that still are safe for orchards. Pretty soon, the only oranges left in Florida will be on the license plates.

        You’re on to something with your scooter merchandise idea, but what about…golf carts? If there’s one thing Florida has in abundance, it’s golf courses, and if there’s one thing golf course have, it’s carts. Oranges may have abandoned you, Floridians, but golf carts remain your faithful friends!

        Now, regarding Dancing Deer, they are excellent, but I’m not quite sure they make it all the way to “awesome.” When I set out on my expedition, I figured the D.D. cookies I’d find in Mass. would be A) cheaper and B) fresher than what was offered online. How impressed will the recipient be, I asked, to have cookies straight from the source? Thus, you can imagine my disappointment… Anyway, what’s available online most definitely is overpriced, as you notice.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Crystal!

      The common thread? All things that soothe the heart, and which are necessary components of living in a country in which it rains 368 days a year. When it’s grey outside, all the more reason for the inside to be warm and colorful. A stew, a good loaf and a comfortable pub. All these, and a spark o’ wit, are enough to bounce above the clouds.

      Saints above, why, it works for those of us caught in winter’s chill, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot think of ONE simple dish that is more comforting and just heavenly in winter than a beef stew…
    wait
    yes, I can!
    A beef stew JUST like this one accompanied by nice, warm loaf of freshly-baked Irish soda bread! Just as granny intended it!
    If I close my eyes I can REALLY smell the intoxicating aroma!
    I say we make 2021 an endless January and eat this every day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not so fast there, Mar! We just endured 31 days of January; do we really need more?

      Even with a loaf of bread, golden from the oven, its warm scent wrapping you in comfort…while making you hungrier now than you ever have been before. It’s just that…it’s…it’s…

      Darn it, Mar! Your words have made a January-lover of me too! Happy? You would be, with a few slices, still warm enough to make the butter ooze, in front of you. A steaming bowl of savory stew, too.

      Now, that’s how you do January! By the way, Mar, thanks so much for your kind words!

      Like

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