WINNIPEG, MB - I remember growing up visiting my Gran. I know I have talked about her being my inspiration many times in the past, but honestly, she truly was! To this day, I have many good memories – a couple of not so good, but mostly good. The best memories are mixed up with her food. From fudge to apple pie, my Gran was simply the best. Why was that? Well, to start with, it was the old style of cooking – not from a box but from scratch, not from a book but muscle memory.
Being of Irish decent, her Irish stew was nothing short of spectacular.
Irish beef stew is easy to make but requires patience. Always cook it slowly! Guinness is its secret weapon, creating a sauce that has wonderful, deep, complex flavours that taste perfect. You can eat it on the same day you make it but like many good foods it is even better the day after!
Irish Beef Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2.5 kg stewing beef (or lamb)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mustard (Dijon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 onions diced
10 slices thick cut bacon, diced
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 cans Guinness
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch lengths
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
Sprigs of flat leaf parsley for decoration
Sour dough buns
Potatoes for mash
Place the slow cooker on a high heat and pour in your beef stock.
Cut the beef into 1-inch chunks. Pat dry using a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Add the mustard and stir.
Pour oil in a pan and place on the stove on a medium heat, then start to add the beef in small batches and brown well all over. Once seared to a nice golden colour, remove from the pan and place the browned beef inside the slow cooker. Repeat with remaining beef until all the beef has been seared.
Keep the same pot on a medium heat and add garlic and onion. Cook for three minutes until softened or the onion appears clear. Add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is browned. Add the tomato paste, then stir flour into the mixture. Add the Guinness and stir thoroughly (to ensure the flour dissolves well).
Pour the mixture into the slow cooker, finally adding the carrots and celery, bay leaf and thyme. Add enough water so the beef and veggies are almost fully covered.
Mix all the ingredients, put the lid on the cooker and leave on a medium heat to cook for at least four hours.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and thyme.
Slice the top off the buns and carefully remove the bulk of the bread from inside, being careful not to break the outside seal of the bun. Place a serving of the stew inside the bun and top with some fresh, creamy mashed potato. Add a sprig or two of parsley for colour, sit down and enjoy your feast. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
By Ian Leatt, he is general manager of Pegasus Publications and a trained chef.