Monday, June 25, 2007

Irish Beef Stew

This is a great dish to make on a chilly day. Assembling the stew is quick enough, but it does need to simmer most of the day to reach perfection. Serve with Colcannon or simply mashed potatoes.

750 grams (1 and 1/2 pounds) chunks stew beef
4 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 leek, tender light green and white part only, washed, trimmed and chopped
1 44cl can Guinness beer
1 cup full-bodied red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 soup bone (if the butcher's got one)
3/4 cup shredded celeriac (peeled) or finely chopped celery (optional)
125 grams (4 oz) mushrooms, washed and chopped (also optional)
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme (powdered is best)

1) Place beef in a large mixing bowl and toss with half of the flour, coating each piece.

2) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot set over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add in the flour-coated beef and brown all sides.

3) Remove the beef from the pot and add in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Allow to melt then add in the chopped leeks, stir and cook until they are just soft (if the bottom of the pan is too brown, add a scant 1/4 cup hot water to the pot).

4) Pour in the Guinness, wine, stock and tomato paste and stir up the 'fond', brown bits on the bottom of the pot, to incorporate into the stew. Add the beef back in, as well as the soup bone, shredded celeriac and mushrooms.

5) Cover and turn up the heat. Once the stew comes to a strong simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, keep covered and allow to cook ever so slowly for 2 to 3 and 1/2 hours. The stew should just barely spit, not simmer, but does need to move a bit. Every once in a while, scoop off the 'scum' that forms on the top and discard then give the stew a stir.

6) 30 minutes before serving,remove the soup bone. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/2 cup cold water and add it to the stew. Turn the heat up and bring the stew to a full simmer, stirring as it thickens. Add in the thyme. The beef should be fork tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serves 4. You will have extra gravy left over-- have some good bread on hand.

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