Guinness and Beef Stew is an Irish Tradition

I am currently waiting not-so-patiently for spring to arrive in earnest here in Wisconsin. We’ve had a few sunny days, but today is a gloomy 33 degrees and the weather forecasters are threatening snow. Is there anything better than a warm bowl of stew on a cloudy March day? I think not.

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With St. Patrick’s day right around the corner and winter not quite behind us, I thought I’d share my recipe for Guinness and Beef Stew. I’d call this recipe “Irish inspired” because a traditional Irish stew is a bit more simple than this one, with fewer vegetables, no bacon and water as the braising liquid. Most Irish home cooks wouldn’t waste a perfectly good Guinness on a stew, but I like the depth of flavor it adds – plus it gives me an excuse to buy and drink Guinness, which sparks fond memories of time spent in Dublin and trains between London and Bristol (Guinness was our go to train beer). 

A Brief History of Guinness

Guinness enjoyed a humble beginning when Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease for Dublin’s St. James’s Gate Brewery in 1759. Yes, that’s 9000 years at a rate of £45 a year. I’d say he got a pretty good deal!

He started by brewing ale, but in the 1770’s he started brewing a new type of English beer called a porter. By the end of the century, he stopped brewing ale entirely. The positive influence of the Guinness family made an enormous difference to the lives of those in the local community. In today’s global environment, and you can now order a “pint of the black stuff in over 150 countries around the world.

You can also visit and tour the Guinness Storehouse, the famous original brewery, which is a great way to spend half a day or so when you are in Dublin. Learn more about visiting St. James’s Gate in our blogs about Dublin and an Irish Itinerary that have lots more ideas for you.

How to Make Beef and Guinness Stew

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The hardest part of this recipe is browning the bacon, mushrooms, and beef at the beginning. It may seem like an unnecessary (and admittedly somewhat messy) step, but I promise it will make all the difference in the flavor of the stew overall and the texture of the beef. After that, you pretty much dump everything into a pot (save for a few veggies that get stirred in later), stick it in the oven, and wait for as long as your patience allows.  You will be rewarded with fork tender beef, savory gravy, and delicious vegetables. This dish is a meal in and of itself, so once it goes in the oven, you’re done with dinner prep!

Guinness and Beef Stew Recipe

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½ lb bacon

2 lbs chuck steak, cut into 1” pieces

¼ cup all purpose flour

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb red potatoes, quartered 

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” pieces

8 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered 

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, torn into bite sized pieces

1 16oz can of Guinness

2 cups beef stock or water

3 sprigs thyme

Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 300F

Place a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Using kitchen shears or clean scissors, snip the bacon into ¼ inch pieces directly into the pot. Cook, stirring frequently until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel. Pour about 3/4 of the rendered fat into a small bowl and set aside. Add the mushrooms to the remaining hot bacon fat and cook in a single layer until they begin to take on some color. Salt the mushrooms generously and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and tender. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and set aside. 

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While the mushrooms are cooking, generously salt and pepper the beef. Sprinkle the flour over the beef, then toss to coat. When the mushrooms are finished cooking, add a bit of the remaining bacon fat, and half of the flour coated beef. Cook undisturbed in one layer until the beef is deeply brown on one side. Give the beef a stir and continue to cook, stirring every few minutes, until the beef is browned all over. Remove the cooked beef to a bowl and repeat with the remaining raw beef, adding more fat as necessary.

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Deglaze the pan using about ½ a cup of water or beef stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot, and pour the liquid over the reserved browned beef. Wipe out the pot and add any remaining bacon fat into the pan (if you are out at this point, feel free to use oil) followed by the onions. Cook until they have just started take on color, then add the garlic, potatoes, carrots, beef, and bacon. Stir until combined, then pour in the Guinness and enough beef stock or water to just cover the meat and vegetable mixture. Bring to a simmer, add a few sprigs of thyme to the stew, then cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the preheated oven. 

After two hours, remove the lid of the pot and stir in the kale and the browned mushrooms, Continue to cook, uncovered, until the beef is fork tender and the kale is wilted, about another hour. 

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Chelsea is one third of the Euro Travel Coach team (and is the daughter of the other two thirds of the team, Greg and Betsy). She has a passion for food and wine and has a background in hospitality. She attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and interned with two of New York City’s best restaurant groups while she was in school. After graduation she worked at the number one wine auction house in the United States, Chicago’s Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. There, she organized various wine centric events for HDH’s most valuable clients. She and her husband moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2016 and then to Bristol, UK in 2018 and have traveled extensively during their time living in Europe. Her expertise in food and wine and her experience living abroad helps her to find amazing accommodations, delicious restaurants, and unique experiences for Euro Travel Coach clients.

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