Thursday, February 6, 2014

Irish Stew with Beer & Wine

Yum

Irish stew (Irishstobhach / Stobhach Gaelach) is a traditional stew made from lamb, or mutton (mutton is used as it comes from less tender sheep over a year old, is fattier, and has a stronger flavor, and is generally the most traditional variation used) as well as potatoes, onions, and parsley. It may sometimes also include carrots. Irish stew is also made with kid goat. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_stew)
Irish stew is a celebrated Irish dish, yet its composition is a matter of dispute. Purists maintain that the only acceptable and traditional ingredients are neck mutton chops or kid, potatoes, onions, and water. Others would add such items as carrots, turnips, and pearl barley; but the purists maintain that they spoil the true flavor of the dish. The ingredients are boiled and simmered slowly for up to two hours. Mutton was the dominant ingredient because the economic importance of sheep lay in their wool and milk produce and this ensured that only old or economically non-viable animals ended up in the cooking pot, where they needed hours of slow cooking. Irish stew is the product of a culinary tradition that relied almost exclusively on cooking over an open fire. It seems that Irish stew was recognized as early as about 1800...
Today you can find many recipes for Irish Stew, some with beef and some with lamb ... no matter how you make it, this is comfort food at its best. 



I come from a long line of Irish ancestors. My maiden name is Walsh, my mom was a Conron, her mother was a Phelan, and my great-grandmother was a McGee, so you know this Irish Beef Stew speaks loudly to me. It's something I grew up on, part of my heritage, and one I love to serve to this day.




Ingredients
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. stew beef (or cubed lamb pieces if preferred)
1/2 cup flour
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup Guinness beer or other dark beer
1/2 cup red wine
*4 cups homemade beef base or beef bone broth
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. dried thyme leaves
1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 red or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Combine beef pieces and flour in a zip-top bag and shake to coat; place all in a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the next 11 ingredients and stir to mix well.

Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-6 hours.  If you're in a hurry, parboil the potatoes and carrots until partially cooked; add to slow cooker and turn on high for 30 minutes and cook until softened.  Otherwise, add the potatoes and carrots during the last 2 hours of cooking time (be sure to turn the slow cooker to high).

Serve stew immediately with a nice crusty bread for dunking in the stew.



*Beef base - To make a quick beef base, roast beef bones (soup bones, rib bones) in a large roasting pan several hours (this is going to take about 3 hours) in a 250-300 oven until marrow is cooked.  Add 8 cups water and cook an additional hour or two until broth has reduced in half.  Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. At this point you can either "put it up" by canning it in a pressure canner, or freeze it for use another time.  I like to make beef base and keep it on hand for when I want to use some, such as in this stew recipe.  It's also amazing in vegetable beef soups, French onion soup, or almost anything calling for a hearty beef base. You can also use homemade beef bone broth.

Alcohol substitutes - If you'd rather not use the beer and wine, substitute non-alcoholic beer for the Guinness and apple cider or unsweetened grape juice for the wine. Some balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar could also be added a teaspoon at a time, until flavor is where you like it.

Enjoy,
Mary

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