Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! While parties with green gear and green beer are definitely popular, cooking up some Irish food can make even the non-Irish feel a connection to the Emerald Isle.
Adding some Ferryman Oatmeal Stout from The Phoenix Brewing Company to the stew recipe gives it a full-bodied, rich flavor. Whip up some Irish Soda Bread to go with your stew and you will have true Irish comfort food.
But first, a little history on Irish stew. The impoverished folks of Ireland had to make do with whatever they could get their hands on for meals. For many years mutton was the only meat available, and it was scarce. Neck bones, shanks and other trimmings were used as the basis for a stock. These would-be discards held enough flavor after two or three hours of simmering to do justice to a hearty bowl of stew. Onions and root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips were used for flavor and thickening. Some cooks added barley to add even more heartiness.
When the potato famine of the mid-1800s drove millions of Irish to America and other countries, they brought their traditional recipes with them. Mutton was not as available in America as it had been in Ireland, so cooks began using beef instead. Garlic and other aromatic herbs made their way into revised recipes.
An Irish stew recipe can be basic or turned into a delicious gourmet version. Experiment with traditional lamb recipes instead of using beef. Bacon also adds full-bodied flavor. Add a herb bouquet to the stock for added richness. Wine or stout beers are often used to replace some of the stock and to add unique flavor. Try a recipe that includes herb dumplings cooked on top of the stew, or experiment with serving your stew in a bread bowl or over polenta.
Irish Beef Stew with Ferryman Oatmeal Stout
6 ounces bacon, diced
2 pounds beef chuck
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium firm, waxy potatoes (e.g., Yukon Gold), cut in 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 large parsnip, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
16 oz. Ferryman Oatmeal Stout
1 cup strong beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the beef across the grain into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper and the flour and toss to coat the pieces. Set aside.
Fry bacon in a heavy pot until done then remove it with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan.
Working in batches and being careful not to overcrowd the pieces, generously brown the beef on all sides. Transfer cooked beef to a plate and repeat with remaining beef.
Remove beef from the pan, then add the onions and fry them, adding more oil if necessary, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the Stout and bring it to a rapid boil, deglazing the bottom of the pot. Boil for 2 minutes.
Return the beef and bacon to the pot and stir to combine. (At this point you can transfer everything to a slow cooker if you prefer. Follow the remaining steps and then cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.)
Bring stew to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Have fun in the kitchen!
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