Stew. I like it. A lot. Like a lot, a lot. Because: STEW. The best part about making stew is each time you enter the kitchen there's a bit of magic that occurs. The ingredients don't have to change much, if at all, and you have a completely different dish on your hands; a different culinary adventure for your taste buds. Stew is also one of those dishes that transcend cultures in ways that a lot of other dishes simply don't; the name might change, but the concept of the dish stays the same: put stuff in a pot and cook it low and slow for x-hours.
Side note: if you look closely at the photo you can see me in my BRIGHT PINK pants. *waves* I need less shiny spoons. Or less pink pants. I guess I could also embrace it and you all could start playing Where's Waldo with my pictures.
Given that today is St. Patrick's Day, I need you all to say it with me: Erin Go Bragh! Also, I'm going to squeeze in a quick grammar lesson: it's Saint Patrick's Day, St. Pat's, or St. Paddy's Day - but it's not St. Patty's Day. #paddynotpatty
Thanks to the Guinness, this stew has a delightfully stout-y flavor. If you've never had a Guinness before it is, in and of itself, a meal. It's dark; vaguely coffee tasting with a slight bitter taste. Those flavors carry over into the stew - which is why there's a bit of sugar and tomato paste; a hint of sweetness to chase around the darkness of the stout. By the time you take this out of the oven you'll have mushroom and carrots that have bubbled to perfection, stew meat so tender it falls apart in your mouth - and best of all - it's served over everyone favorite (okay, it's mine) side dish: mashed potatoes.
Beef and Guinness Stew Over Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from PBS Food
2 TBSP EVOO
1 1/2 pounds stew beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots, chopped in medium chunks
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thick sliced
2 TBSP flour
1 12-oz bottle of dark stout (such as Guinness)
2 TBSP double concentrated tomato paste
2 beef stock
2 whole sprigs of fresh thyme
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
Prepared mashed potatoes
Heat EVOO in a Dutch Oven over medium-low heat. Brown the meat in small batches. (Don't forget what Julia Child told us - pat the meat dry with paper towel first, otherwise it will not brown well). Once the meat is deeply browned (about 5 minutes on each side), remove it from the pot and put it aside.
Using the same pot, add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and carrots, cooking for about 6 minutes or until they begin to brown. Season with salt, stir well to combine.
In a little bowl, stir some of the stock into the tomato paste, to dissolve it a bit. Pour the liquefied tomato paste along with the rest of the stock into the pot. Add the remaining ingredients: beer, thyme sprigs, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Add the meat and juices back into the pot as well. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, and then place the lid on the pot and put it in a 325F oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened. Don't forget to check the seasoning before you serve it, and add a bit more salt if you find the flavor a bit flat.
Let the stew cool and settle for a few minutes, then ladle generously on top of a plate mashed potatoes.