There are a few things I appreciate in life: a good meal, a good woman, and a good beer. On most occasions, I am lucky enough to possess at least two of these, and oftentimes all three, but tonight my hot gf took one away from me. It wasn’t her herself–she’s still here, fortunately. Nor did she scold me and send to my room without dinner. Rather, I witnessed her pouring my favorite beer into a pot, for dinner. My dear Murphy’s stout for a beef stew she was preparing.
“Oh, the blasphemy! Of all the beer you could have chosen in our fridge you went with that one!” I said, only without such a tinge of Oxford rhetoric. It was more like Jersey rhetoric: “Babe, what ‘chu take my favorite beer fah?”
“I needed it for the beef stew I’m making you!” she responded with a smile.
“Ah man, you shoulda used my Sam Adams. Those ones suck compared to Murphy’s.”
Chef’s Note: Really, I wanted Guinness but we didn’t have any so I took the next best option assuming Murphy’s was also probably from Ireland. It’s a Stout stew-the week of St. Patrick’s Day; what did he expect?! The beer adds a richness and creaminess to the stew.
I must admit I love my stouts, and had my doubts when I purchased a six of Sam’s cream stouts-in bottles. Everyone who drinks stouts knows they don’t pour nor hit the palette with the same smooth consistency out of a bottle as opposed to a can. It can best be demonstrated by merely pouring one into a glass: watch the foam rise slowly from any canned stout, whereas the bottled ones will fill your glass more like a porter, leaving you desiring more (or less for that matter since you wanted a genuine stout), wishing you had just played it safe by purchasing the tried and true-a can of Guinness or Murphy’s*. I have no idea what that little metal ball within their cans does to make their beer so balanced, but it must be something magical, because the Sam Adams’ ones pale in comparison. Figures some English bastard would fuck it up. If you want an Irish beer, ya best stick with the ones who brew it. (Though I will say, a Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout on the other hand ain’t so bad, even out of a bottle. Regardless, it’s still no traditional Irish stout and therefore not worthy of mentioning.)
Whatever my hot gf did, her choice to use my favorite beer was immediately excused the moment I tasted her beef stew. Sure, I would have preferred she pour my remaining 5 Sam Adams in there over even just one Murphy’s, but in the end I appreciate her intent: she only wants the best in life and that always come out in her cooking. Which poses the perplexing question of: what the hell is she doing with me?
Alas, we can’t all have the best, but on most days good enough will do. Which is why the remainder of the week I will tolerate drinking Sam Adams, while my hot gf tolerates me. As for the rest of you, I think you’ll find her Irish Stout Beef Stew more than tolerable this St. Patrick’s Day.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Chef’s note: There is something about a stew; it is an instantly comforting meal. I wanted to make something this week with an Irish feel in light of the upcoming holiday, and as it happens it has been pissing down rain non-stop here, so this stew was perfect. I took inspiration from Host the Toast’s Recipe, changed a few things around, and made biscuits on the side. A perfect end of winter, Irish comfort meal.
Side note: The Boyfriend, i.e. the editor, i.e. the guy with the final say over what’s put forth on this blog considered omitting “pissing down rain” for sounding ridiculous, but his hot gf reassured him it’s a common UK saying, lexicon which was in fact confirmed by Cambridge dictionary.
*I say this without having yet poured a Left Hand Milk Stout in a glass, as these are distributed in bottles but could be a testament to my beliefs on bottled stouts. However, I am skeptical they will disprove my theory about superior can consistency, aside from the fact that I’m not a huge fan of their rich taste. I prefer my stout creamy and smooth, much like a milk shake, probably because I have always had a sweet tooth. In fact I put some Cliff’s homemade Bailey’s ice cream in a glass of Murphy’s the other night and had one hell of an ice cream float. It’s no wonder my doctor tells me I have high triglycerides.
Irish Stout Beef Stew
Prep time: 30 minCook time: 2 hours Serves: 4-5
- 1 - 2 tbsp veg oil
- *1.5 lbs. Beef stew meat, cut into bite size chunks
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- About 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped (I had baby bellas but white button or creminis would also be fine)
- 2 red potatoes potatoes, cut into chunks (can also use white, baking potato)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1.5 cups stout beer (preferably Guinness or Murphy’s)
- 2 1/2 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 3 thyme sprigs (left whole)
- 1 bay leaf
- **About 1/2 - 2 tbsp wondra flour (if needed)
- Chopped parsley for garnish
-Chop veggies and meat.
-Have all ingredients out as stew comes together quickly once you start.
- Heat 1 tbsp veg oil over medium heat in a large pot or ideally a Dutch oven.
- Liberally season beef with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Cook until browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- If needed add a bit more oil and then add the carrot, onion and celery. Cook until veggies become fragrant and start to soften but do not brown very much, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and mushrooms, cook 1 more minute.
- Add tomato paste and flour, cook about 2 minutes and turn the heat down so the veggies do not burn.
- Add in all liquid - beer, broth, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Add in potatoes, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Cover, simmer 1.5 hrs - stirring occasionally.
- Uncover and continue to cook for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- At this point the stew is done. If it is not thick enough add Wondra flour. Start with half a tbsp and go from there. Remove thyme spring and bay leaf. Serve with biscuits and a stout.
*In my grocery store this meat is actually labeled, but just look for meat cut into big chunks. It is going to be fibrous and tough but will cook down nicely.**If you don’t have Wondra I recommend using a cornstarch, water mixture. However, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again - I really like Wondra for thickening sauces or stews.
Cheddar Thyme Biscuits
Prep time: 15 minCook time: 20 min Makes about 15-18 biscuits
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) very cold butter, cubed
- *1/2 cup Irish cheddar, shredded
- 1 sprig thyme, leaves only
- 3/4 cup whole milk or buttermilk
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- **With a pastry cutter, 2 forks or fingers cut in the butter.
- Add milk or buttermilk and stir until just combined.
- Turn out dough onto floured surface and knead until it comes together. Roll out until it is about 1” thick. Cut out with glass, biscuit cutter, or round cookie cutter. Brush with milk or buttermilk and place on baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
*You can absolutely use any cheddar you like but Irish cheddar is nice a sharp, plus you can often find it on sale around St. Patty’s Day. **You can make your biscuit dough in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until just combined. Then you would add the milk or buttermilk and pulse until the dough just starts to come together.