Full of Beery, Stewy Goodness
Why is it that whenever anyone talks about a pairing of a food and an alcoholic beverage, they only talk about wine? Sure, once in a great while you get a pairing of a flight of crazyass tropical cocktails with your pseudo Polynesian cuisine (“Suffering Bastard” anyone?). But what about beer? For my money, nothing pairs better with beef, Mexican food, and pizza than a good, cold beer (Heineken and Corona need not apply).
There are certainly enough varieties/flavors/styles/countries of origin to make it possible to find a pairing that creates a whole that’s greater than its parts. It’s the perfect pairing when the food and the beverage taste so perfect together that you can’t imagine having one without the other.
Beyond the eating-drinking pairings, there’s the opportunity to create cooking pairings. And that’s what piques my interest. I want to find the right pairing of food ingredients and beer, and keep it true to the region. So, if I’m cooking Mexican, use a Mexican beer. Or, in this case, make something inspired by the ingredients and tastes of Ireland–but not with lamb, because I don’t like lamb.
And so, I give you….
Crock Pot Guinness Stout Beef Stew
2 lbs beef stew meat (chuck is fine), cut into chunks
1/2 cup flour (divided in half)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (divided in half)
1 lg. yellow onion, rough chopped
1 bottle Guinness Stout
1.5 cups beef stock (broth works too)
2 tbsps Demi-glace Gold (optional)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh)
1 tbsp worcesterhire sauce
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips (don’t ewww at me)
1.5 lbs boiling potatoes , cut into chunks (red, white, Yukon Gold, fingerling…I used whatever I found in the bin)
3 small turnips, peeled and cubed
1/2 small sack baby carrots, left whole
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Mix 1/4 cup of the flour with the salt & pepper in a big Ziploc bag. Add the beef chunks and shake to coat evenly.
- Heat 1/2 the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. If you have the fancy kind of crock pot that can go on the stove, use that.
- When the oil is shimmering, drop the heat to medium and add the beef chunks. Work in batches, with the beef in a single, uncrowded layer. You want it to brown evenly (about 1 minute per side), not steam. Remove the meat as it browns and set aside.
- When all the beef is browned, add the rest of the oil and the flour to the skillet. Stir to combine, and cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw flour flavor. Now, add 1/2 the Guinness, and stir to pull up any delicious stuck brown bits. You’re going to wind up with a caramel colored sludge. This is a good thing — it’s your roux.
- Add all the veggies to the crock pot. Add the roux you made in step 4, and stir to coat the veggies thoroughly.
- Throw the browned meat on top of the veggies. Do not stir.
- Add the rest of the Guinness, the beef stock, the demi-glace (if you’re using it), the herbs, worcestershire, and the chocolate chips. Yes, you really do need the chocolate–you won’t taste them; they just balance out the bitterness of the Guinness.
- Slap the lid on this thing, and cook all day on low (8-10 hours would be fine) or 4-5 hours on high.
- If your sauce isn’t thick enough (mine was almost too thick), leave the lid off the last 20ish minutes.
- Serve topped with the parsley, with some kind of good bread for mopping up the gravy.
I hate pre-browning meat for crock pot recipes, but you really do need to do it for this one, or you’ll have a thin, runny stew. You can brown the beef and make the roux ahead of time, and hold in the fridge over night. See? Not so bad.
Your stew will be fine without the demi-glace. I use it in most stews and soups to really boost the beefy-ness. But, if you’ve never used it, you won’t miss it.