Make This Hearty Beef Stew from the Official Guinness Cookbook

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Courtesy of Insight Editions
Courtesy of Insight Editions

From a young age, Caroline Hennessy learned a very important lesson: “If you bake something, you can eat it.” Whether it was on her Nana’s farm making jam or baking cakes with her paternal grandmother, Hennessy’s Irish upbringing centered around food. But it’s one dish, in particular, that brings her back.

“When my mother had beef stew simmering on our big oil-fired stove, you couldn’t wait for dinner,” she remembers. “It was all that lovely anticipation—her searing off the meat earlier in the day, and then letting it simmer away. The whole house would be warmed and there would be a lovely aroma in the air. I can tell you there were no dawdlers when we were called for suppertime.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that traditional beef stew is what graces the cover of Hennessy’s latest work, The Official Guinness Cookbook, which chronicles nearly 70 recipes for cooking and baking with the legendary Irish beer brand. The book not only serves as a reminder of the versatility of the beer as a cooking ingredient, but of the beauty of Irish cuisine itself.

After moving from Ireland to New Zealand for a time, Hennessy began to more fully appreciate the food and drinks from her home country, which often get pigeonholed and misunderstood. She chronicled all of this exploration on her blog, BiblioCook, and in her first book, Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider.

“Back in 2005, people really weren’t very proud of Irish food,” she says. “But in the last 15 or so years, a huge amount has changed. Irish people have become much more knowledgeable about food and our own products. There are incredible growers, producers, brewers, and distillers all over the country. One of my jobs is to shout about it and let people know we’re not just the land of bacon and cabbage.”

The Guinness cookbook does just that with facts about the Dublin brewery, guides to properly tasting and pairing the beer, and recipes for onion soup, braised short ribs, a chocolate potato cake, soda bread, and even cocktails. Though other beer styles make an appearance (including the extra stout and blonde varieties), the classic Guinness Draught stout is the most common ingredient.

“When my mother had beef stew simmering on our big oil-fired stove, you couldn’t wait for dinner.”

“There’s a richness and intensity and lovely bitterness that you get from a pint of Guinness,” she says. “So if you’ve got something fatty and rich, it can cut through that. You end up tasting things more clearly and you’ve got those lovely nutty, malty notes that will enhance your cooking in any dish.”

Writing and testing recipes that include Guinness comes naturally to Hennessy, who remembers her mom popping bottles of the stuff over the stove to make a traditional Irish porter cake with plump and tangy berries, which is included in the book. She also includes two versions of beef stew: one that is more traditional and another made with beef cheek and chorizo for more special occasions.

No matter which version you decide to make, Hennessy advises cooking it low and slow, whether it’s on the stove, in the crockpot, or in the oven. She also advises to taste as you go, determining how much seasoning to add and adding a splash of beer to brighten it up.

Even though there are potatoes in the stew, Hennessy recommends serving it with “a good feed of Irish floury spuds” or a creamy mash topped with parsley for garnish. No matter what comes on the side, she says there is only one pay to present her Traditional Beef and Guinness Stew to guests.

“Don’t plate it up in advance,” she advises. “If you’re going to make it into a party piece, have everyone sit at the table, bring it over in your fabulous Dutch oven, make sure it’s covered. Then lift it up and watch everyone’s faces because there will be a big waft of steam, and everyone will be able to nearly taste it already. Give it the respect it deserves.”

Traditional Beef and Guinness Stew

Makes 4 to 6 servings

• 2 tablespoons beef drippings or extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 pounds (900g) stewing steak, cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces
• 2 onions, sliced
• 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
• 3 carrots, peeled and cut into
• 2-inch (5cm) chunks
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 14.9-fluid-ounce (440ml) can Guinness Draught Stout
• 1 cup (240ml) beef stock
• 1 tablespoon apple jelly or red currant jelly
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or Chile Extra Stout Mustard (page 62)
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• Sea salt
• Black pepper
• 8 ounces (225g) baby potatoes, scrubbed

1. In a heavy-bottom lidded ovenproof casserole dish or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the drippings. Add the meat in batches and cook for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, scooping each batch onto a plate as it is done.
2. If the pan is too dry, add a little more fat as needed, then add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes. Add the beer, stock, jelly, tomato paste, and mustard, and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping to dissolve all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan, along with the thyme and bay leaves. Season with salt and black pepper, and cover with the lid. Turn the heat to low and simmer very gently for 2 hours.
4. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for 1 hour more, until the potatoes and meat are tender. Season with salt and black pepper, remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems, and serve.
Tip: This stew can also be cooked in the oven at 325°F (160°C) for 2 hours before adding the potatoes. After you add the potatoes, continue to cook for 1 hour more, until everything is tender.

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Jess Mayhugh is the editorial director of food & drink for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.