Saturday, October 15, 2016

Slow-Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

Slow Cookers and the chill in the fall air are a marriage made in heaven. A slow cooker is the perfect tool to create a stew.....incredibly tender meat and melt-in-your mouth vegetables. Turn on your slow cooker and dinner is all set ten hours later.

This is a really interesting recipe from Cook's Country. As my fellow Irishmen will attest, Guinness is probably the harshest and most bitter beer you can send over your tongue. So my first thought was that this would be a very bitter stew.

But there is one, all-important ingredient that remedies this problem. Bittersweet chocolate. Do not buy Unsweetened, Semi-Sweet or Sweet. They will not work and your stew will not taste good. Bittersweet chocolate removes the harshness of the beer while bringing out it's complex coffee and chocolate flavors.

Also, make sure you add the Guinness in two stages...once in the beginning and then again just before serving (mixing it with the flour). It is common to serve the stew over egg noodles. But I prefer the method of my ancestors...serve it in a bowl by itself with a loaf of hot Irish soda bread. This recipe serves six to eight people.

4 pounds boneless chuck stew meat, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 bay leaves
5 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.
  2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 1 1/4 cups stout (save the rest for the end), sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours. Then set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer in a small bowl until smooth, then stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper and discard bay leaves. Serve. 

Pairing: If I were to serve wine with this dish, I would pick a Pinot Noir. But, when in Dublin, do as the Dubliners do......

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