My Goodness, My Guinness Stew
March is here and Spring is in the air – or is it? Having another long cold saturday in front of me, I decided to turn on the oven and celebrate the glimmering hints of Spring by raising a strong cup of tea to St Patrick and the Irish – Peter O’Toole, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and even Colin Farrell. With a Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s song playing in my head, and the sound track of Barry Lyndon playing in my heart – I began to make my “almost” famous Guinness Stew. I found this recipe in a 1980‘s edition of Food & Wine and over the years I have tweaked and redefined the flavors to made this stew my own. My friend Anita – who shared the same love of the Irish with me, would poetically describe the flavor of the mushrooms to our foodie friends – Joyce couldn’t have done any better. She was always invited to our St. Patricks Day dinner as she was a dear, dear friend who loved Irish music, Irish men and “real” Irish stew just as much as I do.
This recipe makes enough for 8. I make this quantity so that you will have leftovers to freeze for an impromptu Sunday night supper. It is a simple stew that benefits by slow and thoughtful cooking as well as a “rest” in the fridge for a day or two. It gives a chance for the flavors of the spices to blend.
4 lbs. beef stew
6 T or more olive oil
2 lbs. white button mushrooms
1 lb. frozen pearl onions onions (as much as I love the baskets of fresh pearl onions – the frozen will save you time and is equally as good in the stew.)
4 carrots – give or take
4 ribs of celery
1 cup or more of flour
2 t Quatre Epice (mix equal parts of cloves, ginger, nutmeg & black pepper)
2 12 oz cans of Guinness Stout (buy the 4 pack and enjoy the pour.)
1/3 cup ketchup – or if you prefer tomato paste which was what the original recipe called for. ( I have no problem with ketchup after using it as an integral ingredient in David Bouley’s crab salad while working as Garde Manger at the 4 star restaurant.)
1 T Herbes de Provence – (an mix of savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano & sometimes lavender)
A spice bag consisting of:
2 bay leaves, 1 t celery seed, 1/2 t mustard seed, 2 cardamon pods,6 all spice seeds, 6 white & 6 black peppercorns, 4 cloves, small piece of nutmeg, slice of ginger, pinch of red pepper flakes
2 T Josephine’s Fest Shinnecock Bay Spice Rub
pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
First trim the stew meat. I like to cut my pieces into something that sits on a spoon – usually 1/3 the size of what my butcher provides.
Stem the button mushrooms and cut the caps into slices – I only use the caps saving the stems for a mushroom stock.
Peel the carrots and cut in half lengthwise and slice into 1/2’’ slices. Do the same with the celrey. Reserve the pearl onions.
Make a dredge using a bit more than a cup of flour, a good pinch of sea salt and 1 t Quatre Epice
Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a heavy cast iron pan. When very hot and smoking, quickly dredge a hand full or two of the stew meat in the flour and sear on all sides. Work quickly and in small batches using a bit more oil if needed. The end result should be a juicy stew without steaming the meat in it’s own juice. The object is to caramelize a “crust”. Work your way through all the beef in small batches. Reserve.
While the meat is resting – add 2 T of olive oil to your roasting pan and place it on the stove. Sauté the carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms. Once again – allow the carrots & mushrooms to cook and caramelize without steaming. About 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the stew meat and the onions. And two cans of Guinness Stout and 1/3 cup of ketchup. Scrape any bits that may be on the bottom of the pan.
Add a Bouquet Garni – a cheese cloth tie made of 2 bay leaves, 1 t celery seed,1/2 t mustard seed, 2 cardamon pods, 4 all spice seeds, 6 white, 6 black peppercorns, 2 cloves, small piece of nutmeg, slice of ginger, pinch of red pepper flakes.
Cover and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 to 3 hours.
When finished test for seasoning. A bit of salt can be added to taste.
This stew benefits by a long slow roast and is particularly good the second day so it is a terrific make ahead meal.
This stew is great with egg noodles or mashed potatoes. But for a truly remarkable meal why cook up a pot of polenta while the stew is finishing? Although this a a non-traditional accompaniment – it is immensely delicious and satisfying. The leftovers can be rolled into a log – wrapped and refrigerated over night. It is a perfect sliced and grilled to serve alongside the leftover stew.