Hello darkness my old friend …. I’ve come to cook with you again ….
With St. Patrick’s day just around the corner I thought now would be a perfect time to share my recipe for Jimmy’s Guinness Stew. We actually started making this for friends from Lorient who were in Galway for Paddy’s day and now it has become a staple winter dish for us. We tend to make a big batch and freeze it. It goes great reheated with macaroni / pasta as well if you’re feeling lazy and just want something quick for lunch.
This is a slow cook meal. You’ll probably need about 30 minutes to get everything started. You’ll want to leave it at least 3 hours cooking then with the occasional stir. You also need to have a large pot.
So lets get cooking. First thing is first lets get the ingredients ready.
In my Guinness stew and in no particular order I’ve got.
- Carrots, LOTS of them 1kg?. The ones here are quite big.
- Onions here I’m using 5 smaller onions.
- Mushrooms (I’m throwing in a full pack)
- 1 can of Guinness (You can actually make this without the Guinness and it’ll still be very nice)
- Leek ( I’m using frozen .. about 400 – 500g … of course fresh will work just as well )
- 1 stock cube (Vegetarian here but beef would work as well and home made would probably work better still)
- A lot of recipes call for a bouquet garni for your stews … they are pricey little bundles of herbs. Use one if you want. I’ll replace this with 3 bay leaves and a good teaspoon+ of thyme.
- BACON!!! (again this is smoked bacon / poitrine about 100grammes)
The main thing here is the meat (Normally I use about 800grams). I’m using some cheap meat and lots of it. I’m making a lot more here and I’ve adjusted my recipe as a result just by adding in a bit of extra water later in the cooking.
With cheap meat tends to come sinew and fat. This is to be expected. The presentation on the pack is quite nice don’t be fooled it’s hiding a load of fat. I’m not a huge fan of leaving that much fat on the meat so I’ll cut a lot off. It’s still nice to leave a bit. It’ll dissolve in the cooking and add to the flavour as with the sinew if there is any. The meat here is €7.30 the kilo. You can pick some up from your butchers .. you’ll want to ask for find some stewing beef … or boeuf pour bourguignon. I tend to keep an eye out in SuperU (my local Super Market) for specials and you can find the meat for anywhere from €5 the kilo.
Sharpen your knife and get rid of some of the fat (This is partially optional … I removed quite a bit)
You’ll want to cut your meat into decent bite sized chunks. (Don’t bite them now!) As I’ve made around twice the amount of meat here there’s quite a lot.
We now want to brown the meat. This adds to the flavour. You could coat the meat in flour here as well and fry it up in a bit of oil. You’re not really looking to cook it just brown it all over. You’ll probably want to do this in batches.
This is going to take a few minutes and you’ll want to turn it every minute or so.
In the mean time start chopping your onion. You can do two things at once right? We’re going to half the onion and quarter it. Don’t worry with 3 hours cooking you’re actually not going to have huge chunks of onion at the end.
Once your meat is cooked you’ll probably be left with some juice. Keep this in the pot. This is liquid gold.
Fry your onions and start to brown them a bit.
Chop up your bacon not too small again with the long cooking time this will pretty much disintegrate into the stew.
Add your onions, bacon, and leek back into the pan and fry for a bit longer.
Chop up your carrots (Peel them too obviously) into good sized chunks. A mix of sizes is actually nice. They’ll be cooking for a long time so big chunks are good so there’ll still be something to eat at the end. Add your carrots and meat to a large pot.
Add your leek, onion, and bacon to the pot. This is a LOT of food I hope I’ve got a big enough pot. A heavy duty pot that retains heat is ideal for this dish. This can also go into the oven if you wanted to cook it that way. Me? I’m going to leave it on the gas ring.
Now you want to try taking an arty photo of your can of Guinness and share it online and make people jealous. (It’s like some beautiful kind of monolith from 2001 … erm … ok … maybe not)
Add your stock cube and your Guinness I’ve been told the bottled variety works better with this dish and that the can causes the meal to be a bit more bitter. I’ve not verified this and I can’t find bottled Guinness easily here. (This is the action shot … not an easy feat shooting and pouring at the same time)
Add in 2 to 3 bay leaves. As I’m using quite a bit of meat I’m adding in three. I’m also sprinkling on a good teaspoon+ of thyme. I’ve added in extra water as well as I didn’t feel there was enough liquid for the amount I was doing. No I didn’t crack open another can. Just water is fine.
Give it all a good stir and bring to the boil (I threw it onto a high enough heat for a few minutes)
Cover and reduce the heat once it’s bubbling away. You’re going to want to cook this for about 3 hours stirring occasionally you don’t want it to stick. You hopefully know your pots and cooker better than me. With one hour to go give or take we’re going to throw in our chopped mushrooms ( quartered / whole / halved .. a bit of a mix) Cover again and check on it occasionally.
When you’re coming up to the three hour point get your mash ready. In my case I’m doing a parsnip / potato / milk / butter mash.
Check your stew. Is it too watery?
If it’s too watery you can scoop out some of the mix and thicken this mix with flour or cornflour ( adding gradually and whisking until it starts to thicken up ) Add this back to your main dish.
Cook it some more it’s going to be more amazing. Leave the lid off at the end of cooking to thicken it up even more as you have the liquid evaporate.
We’re done! Bring everything to the table and serve.
Impress your friends with this time consuming but oh so tasty meal.
ps: I know I know … I may need to work on my presentation skills however the kids love this meal (Though they’ll avoid the mushrooms).
Leave this until the next day and the flavours are going to be even more amazing and it’ll have thickened up even more