A long, low and slow braise in a favorite Irish stout yields tender chunks of meat and root vegetables in a cold-day favorite, a thick Guinness beef stew.
For stew meat, generally beef chuck, a low simmer for an extended period of time is best to render the best flavor and texture out of a less than premium cut. As with most traditional stews, additions of root vegetables always work best as they tenderize and flavor along with the meat, and mushrooms lend their own earthy tastes to the broth. Fully caramelizing the onions before setting the simmer also brings a wealth of flavor.
Guinness Irish stout is the braising medium of choice here, helped along by just a bare pinch of seasonings. Of course, any good stout can be used but with the number of boutique craft beers available these days, take care in selecting a dry stout in the Irish or American style. Some modern stouts can be hoppy, which will reduce to bitterness, and some can be sweet stouts that will never lose their cloying edge.
Pearl barley brings not only texture and a mild flavor to the dish, it also works as a thickening agent in place of a more traditional roux. Processed to remove its hull and bran, pearl barley becomes nutty and slightly chewy when fully cooked and adds to the comforting, hearty body of the stew.
The included spices merely round out the roasty flavor of the stout, and may be substituted or experimented with at will. A touch of white and red pepper keeps the stew lively with a tiny spicy bite, and can easily be adjusted for personal taste.
Serve this stew with warmed potato rolls and a glass of leftover Guinness.
Guinness Beef Stew
1½ lb chuck beef
4 oz cremini mushrooms
1 yellow onion
1 Yukon gold potato
½ c pearl barley
½ T Worcestershire sauce
16-oz can of beer (Guinness)
¼ t allspice
1 bay leaf
½ t garlic powder
¼ t marjoram
¼ t dry mustard
½ t onion powder
¼ t white pepper
¼ t thyme
red chile flakes
1 Cut the beef into ½-in. cubes and brown in batches in a little oil. Remove and set aside.
2 Slice the onion and, in the same rendered fat, sauté until golden brown. Add a little water to scrape fond from the bottom.
3 Chop the carrot and mushrooms and add along with the barley and the reserved beef. Add the beer and 2 c water, and stir in all the spices.
4 Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to very low, a bare simmer. Cover and let cook for 4-8 hrs. Season to taste.