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A heaping serving of Make-Ahead Irish Guinness Stew in a one-handled blue and white bowl. The stew is loaded with carrots, potatoes, and fall-apart tender meat. The rich, complex broth is the result of beef slowly simmering in Guinness Stout, along with a few other flavor-building hacks. |Irish Food | Comfort Food | Guinness Stew | Beef Stew | Lamb Stew
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Make-Ahead Guinness Irish Stew

Make-ahead Irish Guinness Stew is the perfect comfort food for celebrating Saint Paddy's Day. Beef is slowly simmered in Guinness Stout to achieve an incomparably rich, complex broth. Make it in advance in the oven or crockpot for an easy meal during the busy workweek. To make it truly traditional, serve over mashed potatoes or colcannon.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs lamb shoulder OR beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into ~3/4" cubes
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided (more if necessary)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, washed, trimmed, and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed and minced, stem reserved
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and minced (discard stems)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce (see Recipe Note #1)
  • 14 oz Guinness Stout: look for 14-oz. cans; you can also use Guinness Draught. (See Recipe Note #2)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 lb baby potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 3 cups baby carrots, washed and cut in half
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (if necessary: see Recipe Note #3)

Instructions

MAKE-AHEAD IRISH GUINNESS STEW: OVEN METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 325º. Dry the meat with paper towels and add to a mixing bowl. Season the flour with the salt and pepper, then dust over the meat cubes. Mix well to coat. Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp. of the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add ¼ of the meat cubes (dust off any excess flour). Brown the meat cubes deeply on at least two sides, then remove to a bowl and add the next small batch of meat cubes. Repeat until all meat cubes have been browned, adding more oil as necessary between batches to prevent the pot from drying out.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the diced onion and celery, adding more oil to the pot if needed. Sauté until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary stem and needles, thyme leaves, and bay leaves; sauté for an additional minute. Add in the fish sauce. Stir for 30 seconds, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the Guinness (IF your Guinness contains a nitrogen capsule [you can hear it rattling in the can], allow it to discharge for 10 seconds after cracking the can open). Continue to stir and scrape for 1 minute. Add the meat cubes back to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Add the beef stock; stir to combine. Lid the pot and place into the oven.
  • Steam or par-boil the remaining vegetables until you can pierce them easily with a paring knife (there shouldn't be any resistance at all; see Recipe Note #3). Add the vegetables to the stew for the last 30 minutes of cook time. During this final 30 minutes, leave the lid cracked open slightly.
  • Remove the pot from the oven after the vegetables have cooked for 30 minutes (the stew has now cooked for 3h total). Place the pot into a sink filled 1/4 of the way with cold water. Let cool for 15–20 minutes. Dry the bottom of the pot and transfer to the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

MAKE-AHEAD IRISH GUINNESS STEW: SLOW-COOKER METHOD

  • Dry the meat with paper towels and add to a mixing bowl. Season the flour with the salt and pepper, then dust over the meat cubes. Mix well to coat. Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp. of the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add ¼ of the meat cubes (dust off any excess flour). Brown the meat cubes deeply on at least two sides, then remove to the crock of your slow-cooker and add the next small batch of meat cubes. Repeat until all meat cubes have been browned, adding more oil as necessary between batches to keep the pot from drying out. 
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the diced onion and celery, adding more oil to the pot if needed. Sauté until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary stem and needles, thyme leaves, and bay leaves; sauté an additional minute. Add in the fish sauce. Stir for 30 seconds, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the Guinness (IF your Guinness contains a nitrogen capsule [you can hear it rattling in the can], allow it to discharge for 10 seconds after cracking the can open). Continue to stir and scrape for 1 minute. 
  • Scoop the contents of the pot into the crock of your slow-cooker along with the beef cubes and any accumulated juices. If there are still browned bits on the bottom of the pot, add the beef stock and continue to scrape. Transfer to the slow-cooker. (Otherwise, add the beef stock directly to the slow-cooker.)
  • Lid the slow-cooker and set on low for at least 6 hours and up to 8. Meanwhile, steam or par-boil the remaining vegetables until you can pierce them easily with a paring knife (there shouldn't be any resistance at all). Add the vegetables to the stew for the last 30 minutes of cook time (turn the slow-cooker to high; see Recipe Note #3). 
  • Cool the stew by placing the crock of the slow cooker into a sink filled 1/4 of the way with cool water. Remove the stew to an airtight container and refrigerate.

SERVING DAY (FOR BOTH COOKING METHODS)

  • On the day that you plan to eat the stew, remove the pot/storage container from the refrigerator and skim off any solidified fat that has accumulated on top of the stew. Reheat in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning, adjusting as necessary. (See Recipe Note #4 for adjusting thickness.) Serve with a chunk of crusty bread, or over mashed potatoes or colcannon. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Adding Asian fish sauce will not result in a fishy flavor. It's the same concept as adding Worcestershire sauce: it adds a complex umami/salty flavor to the broth.
  2. The alcohol cooks almost entirely out of the broth and is not detectable as an alcoholic/beery flavor. If you cannot consume alcohol, you can simply substitute an additional 1 and 3/4 cups of beef broth. It won't be the same, but it will still be delicious. In this case, the stew is more of a traditional beef or lamb stew (i.e., not Irish). 
  3. You can par-cook the vegetables up to a day in advance: just keep them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. You don't have to par-cook the vegetables (just be aware that they may be overcooked. Don't worry: the stew will still be yummy). If you choose to skip this step, simply add the potatoes and carrots when you return the browned meat cubes to the pot (or crock of the slow-cooker).
  4. Adjusting the thickness of the broth. On the day that you're planning to serve the stew (i.e., when the stew is reheated):
    • If the broth is too thick for your liking, simply add additional beef stock or water until the stew reaches the consistency you prefer (go slowly!).
    • If you prefer a thicker stew, the first option is to simmer the stew with the lid off for about 30 minutes to reduce the liquid. Or, you can use the cornstarch slurry method: mix 2 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp of cold water. Mix ONE TABLESPOON of the slurry into the simmering stew and let thicken for 30 seconds. Stir. If the stew is still not quite thick enough, add additional cornstarch slurry 1 tsp at a time (re-mix first!), following the steps above, until the stew reaches your preferred thickness. Don't go beyond the 4 tbsp total of slurry, though, or you risk the stew becoming "sandy" in texture.