Dish 3: Guinness Beef Stew

Ireland

Keeping with my ‘holiday’ theme from dish two, I chose an Irish dish for my third blog entry. This month, we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, a national holiday in Ireland created to celebrate Saint Patrick, a patron saint of the country. Saint Patrick’s Day is also celebrated around the globe as a public holiday. In the Eastern Iowa Corridor, you can find everything from the SaPaDaPaSo Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Cedar Rapids, to green beer being served at various establishments on the nightlife scene in Iowa City.

Before coming to a decision about what Irish recipe to try, I threw out my idea to some friends and family. Eyebrows were raised, and I was basically met with a great deal of skepticism. Using beer in a stew? And not just any beer, but Guinness, one of the darkest and heaviest beers around? How could it possibly taste good?

I should apologize before going any farther to those of you reading that aren’t yet 21, because you are missing out. I suggest you wrangle up some friends who are 21+ cooking aficionados and have them create this dish for you.

The recipe for Guinness Beef Stew came from The Best International Recipe: A Home Cook’s Guide to the Best Recipes in the World, compiled by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated (available at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S Linn St or amazon.com).

My first task in this adventure into Irish cooking was to track down all of the ingredients, 14 this time. I started by searching for a bottle of Guinness. I knew I didn’t want to buy a whole six-pack since I’m not a huge fan of the uber-heavy dark beer, and it would end up being wasted.

For this mission, I headed to John’s Grocery, 401 E Market, in Iowa City. Beer is their specialty, having an entire room dedicated to single bottles of beers from all over the world. After searching for approximately 10 minutes, I found single bottles of Guinness in the European beer section. What I didn’t realize is that there are different kinds of Guinness, including a stout and a draught version. After deliberating for a while, I decided on the draught version…which was a good choice, because after reading through the recipe, I discovered it is the option that is recommended.

The rest of the ingredients were relatively easy to find. 3-3.5 lbs. chuck roast, onions, potatoes, carrots, parsley, garlic, tomato paste, and some spices make up the basic gist of the recipe. The preparation of the recipe itself is pretty foolproof. I started by cutting all of the ingredients into bite-size pieces, and browning the chuck roast in some oil. While the meat was browning, I minced two whole onions (by minced, I mean chopped…who has time to mince 2 whole onions anyways?), and got my oven pre-heated to 375 degrees…which, I realized after the meal was finished cooking, was 50 degrees to warm. Oops! Don’t worry though, everything worked out.

I should mention that you will need about 2.5 hours to make this recipe. It calls for half of the ingredients (meat, onions, spices, beer, chicken broth, etc.) to cook in the oven for an hour before adding the remaining ingredients (potatoes, carrots) and cooking for another hour.

It was getting late by the time I had this all mixed up, so I improvised a bit and cooked the potatoes and carrots in the microwave for about five minutes to cut down on the cooking time.

With a delicious aroma filling the air, my guests arrived, and dinner was served. The verdict you ask? Delicious was the overall consensus. I will definitely be adding this Irish recipe to my recipe file.

Natalie NielsenInternational Food Blogger

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