Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Irish Cooking - Classic and Modern Recipes" - Beef in Guinness for St. Patrick's Day!

Date I made this recipe:  March 16, 2016 (for St. Patrick's Day)

Irish Cooking – Classic and Modern Recipes by Ethel Minogue
Published by:  Shooting Star Press
ISBN:  1-57335-488-0
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Store
Recipe:  Beef in Guinness – p. 61

For once I was prepared.  For once I got a one-day jump on St. Patrick's Day.  And then like that, it came, it went, there were parades, there was drinking, there were likely hangovers (come on – St. Patrick's Day on a Monday?  That's asking for it.) – in other words, business as usual.

And so, our Irish repast:  beef plus beer = the perfect combination?  I don't like lamb so we didn't have lamb, I can take or leave corned beef (I adore it in hash but otherwise not so much) and watery cabbage?  No.  But I have to say that although the dish as a whole was great (the beef was ridiculously tender), I had issues with the – dare I say it – Guinness.

That's right.  I had issues with the Irish national beer.  So good thing I'm not even one teeny tiny drop Irish or I'd likely be bag-piped out of my clan, right?

Here's the thing:  I am not a beer drinker.  I never was but then I have several valid reasons why, namely Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Hamms, Schlitz and Blatz (not to be confused with "Blitz(ed)" as in something many people were after a kegger. These were the beers of my generation and my parent's generation and they are all barley "pop" beverages with a tech of alcohol in them and they smell.  Honestly.  If any of you ever smelled a can of opened beer that was left out after a party, you know what I'm talking about.

Plus, beer can lead to beer guts and I don't do beer guts.  I do wine...or is that whine?  So college keggers were not for me (but trash can parties were) Shall I tell you though, that the popular beer substitute when I was in college – i.e. wine – was also absolute swill?  I cannot even think about a bottle of Boones Farm without shuddering.

But happily for most beer drinks, the beer landscape has now changed and not only are we importing more beers like Guinness but dark beers of all kinds are roaring to the top of the beer sales charts.  And I don't mind a sip or two of a good dark beer (like Guinness, I'll admit) but I don't want a whole glass.  My husband, on the other hand, is all about dark beers and so of course he liked this recipe a lot.  Sadly, although the meal itself was divine, all I could taste was the slightly bitter flavor of the Guinness and for that reason, and that reason alone, I had to slightly ding this recipe.  Perhaps the next time I should have the beer with the food...or just skip the's unclear.

And so speaking of food, I am not a picky eater but since I have a major list of Irish food do's or don'ts, I automatically eliminated oh, a good 75% of the recipes in this book.  Also not on my dinner table this time around?  "Hare Pudding" (p. 83) – ew.  Even Andy wrinkled his nose at this one.   And what the...what?  "Seaweed Salad"? (p. 87) What am I, a mermaid?  And alright, "Seed Cake" in the dessert section (p. 111) doesn't sound that appetizing but the "seed" in question here is caraway seed, not birdseed as you might imagine.  And do not laugh, because years ago, I almost bought a cookbook intended for our friends, the birds.  The shop really needed to move that item to another section but whatever.

"Seed Cake" aside though, the dessert section was looking mighty appealing and God Bless the Irish, almost every single recipe contained booze.  Talk about my kind of cookbook! But just having made a Caramel Custard Pie for Pi Day (03.14.14), I was in the mood for something more substantial and since I like beef and Andy likes beer, we were golden with this recipe for "Beef in Guinness."

My only addition to this otherwise yummy and hearty stew (the taste of the beer aside) was potatoes and quite frankly, I was amazed that an Irish recipe didn't call for them up front – Irish Potato famine, anyone?  I added two peeled and quartered Idaho potatoes during the last 30 minutes of cooking time and they were perfect.  And the beef I bought (chuck steak) was so tender it was ridiculous.  This recipe calls for "braising" beef and a quick Google search lists many type of options for beef suitable for braising (quick sear the beef then simmer in liquid for a few hours until tender).

And so there you have it, another successful St. Patrick's Day meal made by someone with not a single, solitary drop of Irish blood in them but with perhaps a wee bit of alcohol – a happy cook makes a happy meal!

Beef in Guinness – serving size not indicated but probably 6
2-3 lb beef for braising
Seasoned flour (Ann's Note:  I used salt and pepper and that's it but you could likely season however you wanted.)
Oil or dripping
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, whole
3 carrots, sliced
1 large bunch of fresh herbs (Ann's Note:  all I had on hand was parsley)
Salt and pepper
Beef broth (see Basic recipe) (Ann's Note:  buy a large can or carton and add to the pot per the directions i.e. enough to cover the beef)
2 bottles of Guinness (Ann's Note:  or more!  Two bottles for the recipe...two bottles for the cook)
1 oyster per person (optional) (Ann's Note:  option not taken!)

Cut the beef into large chunks and dip in seasoned flour.  Fry in hot oil or dripping.  Fry and brown the onions and garlic.

Place the meat, onions and other vegetables in a casserole dish.  Add the herbs and seasoning, and cover with beef broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat for 1 ½ hours.  Add the Guinness, bring to a boil and simmer for another 30 minutes.  (Ann's Note:  at this point, I added two quartered Idaho potatoes to the pot.)

Lift the meat out of the sauce with a slotted spoon and serve; reduce the sauce to half the quantity over a high heat.  Pour it over the beef again, season to taste, and add the oysters, if liked. 

Serve with wedges of white crusty bread with mustard and a pint of Guinness.

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