It has been really cold in our neck of the woods, and my husband asked me to make his favorite cold-winter evening comfort food—beef stew. Making stew brought back fond memories of our trip to Ireland, where we were introduced to Irish stew. Traditional Irish stew is made with mutton, onions, potatoes, and carrots and is often thickened with mashed potatoes. The stews we are accustomed to here in the U. S. are normally made with beef.
While in Dublin, my husband and I took a walking tour focusing on the Great Famine in Ireland. Our guide shared the history of Irish stew, which I found quite interesting. During the early 19th century, before the Great Famine in 1845, the Irish diet centered around their dependence on potatoes. Stews were a simple, economical way to fill the bellies of even very poor families. At that time, sheep’s wool and milk had a high economic value, so only older, non-producing animals were eaten. Older sheep are called mutton.
The stews Irish cooks prepare these days have evolved. The meat of younger sheep is more tender, so many cooks are using spring lamb; and, not surprising, many add Guinness® to their stews. My husband and I ate at a pub in Dublin that not only added Guinness® but also garnished their stew with pickled red onions and horseradish cream. Remembering that wonderful meal, I scoured my pantry and fridge and had the necessary ingredients to not only make a horseradish cream but also pickled red onions. I didn’t have any Guinness®, but I did have a locally produced beer, Odell’s® India Pale Ale. Following is my version of Irish-Inspired Beef Stew garnished just like that delightful pub. My husband loved the garnishes and gave this recipe a 10—his highest rating.
Irish Inspired Beef Stew Serves 6
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1 ½-inch cubes 2 cups Odell® India Pale Ale IPA 1 teaspoon Worcestershire® sauce 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 medium onion, sliced 2 bay leaves 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon large grind black pepper 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 1 or 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 1 pound new potatoes, washed and left whole (I prefer Yukon gold) 1 pound pearl onions, outer skin removed 1 small head cabbage, washed, cored, and cut into eighths
In a Dutch oven or large kettle, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add stew meat and sauté, turning often so the sides are evenly browned. Add beer, Worcestershire® sauce, garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt, sugar, paprika, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove bay leaves. Add carrots, parsnips, new potatoes, and pearl onions. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. If the liquid in the stew has cooked down, add 1 cup water. Add cabbage sections and continue to cook another 15 minutes, or until cabbage is steamed to desired tenderness. For the garnish: Pickled red onions Horseradish cream Fresh chives Garnish as desired with pickled red onion, horseradish cream, and chives or serve garnishes on the side.
Shopping tip: Supermarkets will sell meat already cubed for stews. It is often more expensive. You can make beef stew with different cuts of meat if you don’t mind cutting the meat into pieces. When your supermarket has chuck, rump, or short ribs on special, give them a try in stew. These cuts can be quite flavorful when cooked slowly. I used a boneless cross rib shoulder roast for this recipe. It cost half as much as the already-cubed stew meat.
Cooking tip: When I cube meat for stew, I prefer cutting it thicker. Larger pieces hold their shape better and give the stew a better taste.
Pickled Red Onions ½ cup apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1 ½ teaspoons salt 1 cup water 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced In a small bowl, place vinegar, sugar, salt, and water and whisk to blend until sugar is dissolved. Place red onion slices in a jar with a lid and pour the vinegar mixture over onion. Put the lid on the jar and shake it gently to cover onion slices with the vinegar mixture. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving. This recipe will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Horseradish Cream Makes about ½ cup ½ cup sour cream 2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar ¼ teaspoon salt ⅛ teaspoon large grind black pepper 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped In a small bowl, place sour cream, horseradish, vinegar, salt, pepper, and chives and whisk to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
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