To Americans, beef stew has long been a fall and winter dinner staple. To the Irish, it’s a traditional dish that has been served for hundreds of years. For both parties, it is a food that provides comfort, especially when cooler temperatures arrive.
The original mainstay in many Irish stews was potatoes, as they were cheap, filling and readily available. The meat of choice was lamb, an animal commonly found and bred throughout Ireland (beef didn’t make an appearance in the stew until American adoptions of the recipe came about). Last but not least, onions rounded out the original stew recipe. To this day, traditionalists claim that to be a true Irish stew, that is also where the ingredient list ends. However, throughout time the recipe has evolved and taken on a variety of different forms, with some including a mixture of root vegetables, some incorporating barley, and others adding in Guinness.
This particular beef stew recipe is certainly not the most traditional or the most minimal, but it does pay homage to its roots with plenty of potatoes. The Guinness adds a nutty, dark seasoning and it keeps the meat tender and moist. The fresh herbs, onion and garlic ensure a broth that is rich in flavor, and the carrots and parsnips add some variety and heartiness. The results are a rich and tender stew whose taste is only further enhanced by the crusty bread bowls that it is served in.
With fall (and almost winter) weather upon us, I think it’s safe to say that beef or lamb, carrots or barley, Guinness or not, there’s nothing better on a cool night than cozying up with a big hearty bread bowl brimming with beef stew!
Guinness Beef Stew Recipe (served in bread bowls)
- 1 ½ pounds beef cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4 cups beef broth (you can also use chicken broth)
- 1 can (14.9 ounces) Guinness Draft
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Medium-sized round loaves of bread (day old bread is ideal)
Heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Separately, in a large bowl, toss the beef cubes with the 3 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Once the oil is hot, add in the beef cubes. Sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the meat has browned.
Next, add in the chopped onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Then, turn the heat down to medium and stir in the beef broth, Guinness, bay leaves, thyme, salt, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
Lastly, add in the vegetables (carrot, parsnip, potatoes). Continue cooking for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.
To thicken the broth, scoop about 1 cup of the hot broth into a small bowl and whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. Once mixed (it should resemble a thick, smooth paste), slowly stir the flour/broth mixture back into the pot and continue simmering the soup over medium-low heat until ready to serve.
To make the bread bowls, use a serrated knife to cut a circle into the top of a round loaf of bread. You’ll want to make sure that when you cut that you leave about 1-1 ½” of bread around the sides. Then, use your hands to pry off the circle of crust that you cut out as well as scooping out some of the interior. As with the sides, make sure to leave about 1 ½” of bread on the bottom so that the stew doesn’t soak through.
When you’re ready to eat, simply scoop the stew into the bread bowl and serve immediately.
Store leftover stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.