My mother is born-and-raised solid country stock from County Westmeath, Ireland. She remembers St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as chiefly religious, with the country going to mass with freshly-picked clovers pinned to buttonholes to honor their patron saint. Then there would be a shared family meal with special-occasion ingredients like beef or lamb, usually presented in roasts or stews.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (or whether you want to avoid all related shenanigans entirely), this traditional Irish dish is straight-forward, nourishing, rich, and perfect for spooning out among any group of friends and family (though with all due respect to my grandmother and her preferred method of just dumping everything in a big pot and leaving it, I’ve added and tweaked some steps to improve texture and flavor).
Recipe after the jump!
3 lbs cheap beef, cut into cubes
canola oil, for browning
olive oil or butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, halved
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, halved
2 carrots, cut into 3-4 big pieces
6+ oz mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 cup homemade beef stock OR bought chicken stock
2 cups bottled Guinness stout
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
TIP: While you could obviously visit one of the neighborhood’s excellent Butcher shops, (Kiszka at 915 Manhattan Ave in particular) I purchased my labeled “stew beef” from Key Food on McGuinness Blvd, where there is a large and varied meat selection at affordable pricing.
1. In a frying pan set over high heat, drizzle in some canola oil and sear the cubed meat to brown it. Use tongs to turn the meat every few minutes, so each side is well-browned.
You may have to do this in batches, as when you pile a whole bunch of meat into a pan, it ends up steaming instead of searing and you lose the beautiful flavor that browning imparts to a dish.
2. Use a spatula to get any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add 1 tbsp of either olive oil or butter. Throw in the mushrooms and sauté until all liquid has been released and boiled off and mushrooms are beginning to brown.
3. Add chopped carrots and chopped onions to the pan, stir, and sauté a few minutes, until onions have softened and are beginning to brown.
4. Remove carrot-onion-mushroom mix from the pan and set aside in a medium bowl. These vegetables won’t be added back in until there’s only an hour left of cooking; this way, you won’t end up with a big muddy bowl of meat with mostly-dissolved veg.
5. ADD THE BOOZE! Bottled Guinness is the way to go here (the canned taste is different, plus its level of carbonation interferes with the cooking).
Pour 2 cups Guinness into a large pot.
6. Add meat cubes to large pot. If any juice has collected in the meat bowl, pour all that deliciousness in too!
7. Then add:
1 cup stock with 1 tbsp tomato paste whisked in until blended
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped thyme
pinch of salt and pepper
8. Leave pot on the stove over a low flame, so the stew is just barely simmering.
Make sure that the stew IS at a constant low simmer though! It needs to kept at that temperature in order for the beef collagen to break down; otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of chewy pieces at the end.
9. Set a phone or other alarm for 2 hour mark. When that alarm goes off, use tongs to remove bay leaf, halved onion and halved carrot from the mix. (They were just there to flavor the broth.)
10. Add in sautéed veg mix from earlier! Stir.
11. Take your 3 tbsp of butter out of the fridge to get to room temperature.
12. Cook stew at least another half hour to an hour (depends on how tender your meat is at the half hour mark).
13. When you’ve tasted and determined your meat is tender enough, time to thicken it up!
In a bowl, mash the 3 tbsp butter with 4 1/2 tbsp flour until all dry flour is brought into a paste. Add a ladleful of liquid from the stew and whisk until well-blended. Add another ladleful and whisk again.
14. Pour this butter-flour roux into the stew and stir in carefully. Bring the stew back to a low boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes, until the stew liquid thickens to your liking.
15. You’re done! Serve hot over champ, a traditional dish of mashed potatoes with finely chopped scallions! Or however you like. Make sure to Instagram a pic with hashtag #CookingwithCP so I can sneak a peek.