EPIC IRISH BEEF STEW
This is one of those recipes that does take a bit of time to make, but believe me, if you persevere and make the beef stock and then attack this bad boy you will have family talking about your famous Irish stew for eons to come.
I’ve added a twist by using my Gaucho seasoning, as it gives wonderful depth of flavour; and a dash of my Captain Kidd BBQ sauce brings all the flavours together perfectly. Now I must confess this is more of a hybrid between a soup and a stew, which creates an excellent mouthfeel and at the same time is hearty and delicious.
Don’t die wondering what this epic recipe tastes like. Roll up your sleeves and get involved, but if you really can’t find the time to make your own stock be sure to use one from your local butcher. This recipe will keep for a week in the fridge and freezes excellently for up to six months when all you have to do is defrost then heat, and dinner is served in 10 minutes. I have to say how important it is to use well-marbled chuck steak in this recipe because if it is too lean the meat will be dry and not very pleasant at all.
Did you know that traditionally Irish Stew was made with mutton? Though now considered a comfort food, stews were once a meal of necessity and the popularity of the dish grew out of social conditions that were anything but comfortable. Having made the trip from South America to Europe as a staple food on sailors’ voyages, the potato was first brought to western Ireland in the 16th century, where it thrived and went on to become a major part of the diet particularly of the country’s poor.
Recipes based on the stewing method of cooking have been traced back as far as the days of the Roman Empire and Apicius de re Coquinaria, thought to be the oldest known cookbook in existence. Though the Romans had long outgrown it by then, stewing came to prominence in Ireland during the early 19th century, during a period of economic turmoil that led to mass poverty.
With only a hanging pot, an open fire and a few fairly easily attainable ingredients, even poor families were able to survive on Irish stew. Mutton was so commonly used for stew because sheep were kept into old age for their wool and milk at the time, meaning the meat was so tough that subjecting it to slow, extended periods of stewing was one of the only ways to make it edible.
Luckily, we get to chef up the recipe and totally transform the humble beginnings of the Irish stew.
PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOKING TIME: 2 1/4 hrs
600g well-marbled chuck beef, cut into 3cm chunks
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
2 tbsps olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 ltr beef stock or broth
250ml Guinness extra stout (optional)
250ml Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tbspss tomato paste
2 tbsps GAUCHO
2 tbsps of CAPTAIN KIDD bbq sauce
2 tbsps butter
1kg potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm bitesize pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 to 4 carrots depending on size, cut into 2cm pieces
1 sprig of curly parsley
Brown the beef: Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over the beef pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large 6-8 litre, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Pat dry the beef with paper towels and working in batches, add the beef (do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until well browned on one side; then use tongs to turn the pieces over and brown on another side. Once browned remove and reserve and repeat until all meat is cooked.
Add garlic to pot and cook until fragrant, then add tomato paste and stir for 30 seconds, stir in GAUCHO and CAPTAIN KIDD for another 30 seconds. Add stock, water, Guinness, wine and browned beef. Bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to the lowest setting, then cover and cook at a bare simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
While the pot of meat and stock is simmering, melt the butter in another pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots. Sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew (in Step 2) has simmered for one hour.
Add the onions, carrots, and the potatoes to the beef stew. Add one teaspoon of salt. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes.
Transfer stew to serving bowls. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with parsley and serve with buttered toast and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or perhaps try a Guinness.