Hello darkness my old friend …. I’ve come to cook with you again ….
Yes it’s a Guinness Stew this evening as we’re having a friend over. She may actually be the person I first cooked this for ( well for my wife as well at the same time ) I think however it was Saint Patrick’s day a few years ago when I made this for the first time and yes she was present. The twinning between Lorient and Galway was and is a great thing, she was also my witness at the town hall in France when I was getting married 🙂 As such something special is called for in the kitchen.
So enough about my flashbacks! Lets get cooking. Get your ingredients ready.
In my Guinness stew in no particular order I’ve got.
Carrots, LOTS of them 1kg?. The ones here are quite big.
Onions here I’m using 5 smaller onions. I’ve found the larger onions are a lot more expensive whereas I can pick up a big bag of these for €1.
Mushrooms (I’m throwing in a full pack)
1 can of Guinness (There’s something weird about pouring a can of Guinness into your food)
Leek ( I’ve probably use around 400 grammes )
1 stock cube (Here’s I’m using vegetarian as I rarely buy beef stock cubes)
A lot of recipes call for a bouquet garni for your stews … they are pricey little bundles of herbs. Use one if you want. I’ll replace this with 3 bay leaves and a good teaspoon of thyme.
BACON!!! (again this is smoked bacon about 100grammes)
The main thing here is the meat (Normally I use about 800grammes). I’m using some cheap meat and lots of it. Normally I wouldn’t cook this much but I’m bringing some into the office today as well. I’ve adjusted my recipe as a result actually just by adding in a bit of extra water later in the cooking.
With cheap meat tends to come sinew and fat. This is to be expected. The presentation on the pack is quite nice don’t be fooled it’s hiding a load of fat. I’m not a huge fan of leaving that much fat on the meat so I’ll cut a lot off. It’s still nice to leave a bit. It’ll dissolve in the cooking and add to the flavour as with the sinew if there is any. The meat here is €7.30 the kilo.
Sharpen your knife and get rid of some of the fat (This is partially optional … I removed quite a bit)
You’ll want to cut your meat into decent bite sized chunks. As I’ve made twice the amount of meat here there’s quite a lot.
We now want to brown the meat. This adds to the flavour, you’ll find some people say it doesn’t and some say it does. If you wanted you could coat the meat in flour here as well and fry it up in a bit of oil. You’re not really looking to cook it just brown it all over. You’ll probably want to do this in batches.
This is going to take a few minutes and you’ll want to turn it every minute or so.
In the mean time start chopping your onion. You can do two things at once right? We’re going to half the onion and quarter it. Don’t worry with 3 hours cooking you’re actually not going to have huge chunks of onion at the end.
Once your meat is cooked you’ll probably be left with some juice. Keep this in the pot. This is liquid gold.
Throw in your onions and start to brown them.
Chop up your bacon not too small.
Add your onions, bacon, and leek into the pan and fry for a bit longer.
Chop up your carrots (Peel them too obviously) into good sized chunks. A mix of sizes is actually nice. They’ll be cooking for a long time so big chunks are good so there’ll still be something to eat at the end. Add your carrots and meat to a large pot.
Add your leek, onion, and bacon to the pot. This is a LOT of food I hope I’ve got a big enough pot. A heavy duty pot that retains heat is ideal for this dish. This can also go into the oven if you wanted to cook it that way. Me? I’m going to leave it on the gas ring.
Now you want to try taking an arty photo of your can of Guinness and share it online and make people jealous. (It’s like some beautiful kind of monolith from 2001 … erm … ok … maybe not)
Add your stock cube and your Guinness I’ve been told the bottled variety works better with this dish and that the can causes the meal to be a bit more bitter. I’ve not verified this and I can’t find bottled Guinness easily here. (This is the action shot … not an easy feat shooting and pouring at the same time)
Add in 2 to 3 bay leaves. As I’m using quite a bit of meat I’m adding in three. I’m also sprinkling on a good teaspoon+ of thyme. I’ve added in extra water as well as I didn’t feel there was enough liquid for the amount I was doing. No I didn’t crack open another can. Just water is fine.
Give it all a good stir and bring to the boil (I threw it onto a high enough heat for a few minutes)
Cover and reduce the heat once it’s bubbling away. You’re going to want to cook this for about 3 hours stirring occassionally you don’t want it to stick. You hopefully know your pots and cooker better than me. After one hour we’re going to throw in our chopped mushrooms ( quartered / whole / halved .. a bit of a mix) Cover again and check on it occassionally.
Coming up to the three hour point get your mash ready. In my case I’m doing a parsnip / potato / milk / butter mash.
Check your stew. Is it too watery?
Scoop out some of the mix and thicken this mix with flour or cornflour ( adding gradually and whisking until it starts to thicken up ) Add this back to your main dish.
We’re done! Bring everything to the table and serve.
Cook it some more it’s going to be more amazing. Leave the lid off at the end of cooking to thicken it up even more as you have the liquid evaporate.
Impress your friends with this time consuming but oh so tasty meal.