Monday, March 14, 2011

My Goodness, My Guinness Beef Stew!

Naturally, I found a flood of Irish-themed recipes in my inbox this weekend as we gear up for St. Patrick's Day. The most tempting of all was corned beef, but that's a 5 to 7 day process and since we're headed to Vegas later this week I just don't have that kind of time. So instead I went for the Guinness Beef Stew served with Irish Soda Bread!

These were both America's Test Kitchen recipes, so I was almost certain they would be a winners. The fact that I could prep it for the crock pot the night before and turn it on to cook before I left for work in the morning was also mighty convenient. I don't do much crock pot cooking anymore (since it sort of takes the fun out of it for me), but I have to admit that I really enjoyed coming home to dinner already prepared tonight.

I also made the Irish Soda Bread last night (remember, that was on my wishlist and I can now cross it off!).

Guinness Beef Stew
2 lbs. Beef stew meat
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup Guinness Draught
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
1 Bay leaf
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
4-6 red potatoes, quartered
3-4 tablespoons flour

Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (if necessary), cook beef in skillet until browned on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker.

Heat other tablespoon oil in skillet. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, half of beer, sugar, thyme, chocolate and bay leaf. Bring to  boil, then transfer to slow cooker.

Add carrots, parnsnips and potatoes to slow cooker. Cook on low for 9 to 10 hours or on high for 6 to 7 hours. Set slow cooker to high. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and remaining beer. Stir into stew and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Note: If you're preparing the stew a day in advance like I did, place the beef, onion-beer mixture and veggies in separate bowls and add everything to the slow cooker in the morning.

Irish Soda Bread
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter (2 tablespoons softened and 1 tablespoon melted)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whish together flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl. Work softened butter into mixture with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add buttermilk and stir until mixture just begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-covered work surface. Knead until dough becomes just cohesive and lumpy, 12 to 14 turns Do not over-knead or the bread will be tough.

Pat dough into round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high. Place onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Cool to room temperature.


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