So, last Friday (errm.... I guess that would be Good Friday - Thank God that Shabbat takes precedent), I was overcome with a desire for Beef Stew. I had images floating in my head of big chunks of meat, coated in a thick brown sauce and they were driving me crazy (I will happily point the "blame" for these craving at a wonderful post about Beef in Guinness at Thyme for Cooking).
Well, my first hunkering was for this very interesting recipe I found in Joy of Cooking for Beef Stew with Mustard, Herbs, and White Wine (Beef Daube). Unfortunately this recipe takes 2-3 hours of simmering, and I just didn't have the time. So, instead I went back to that recipe at Thyme for Cooking and embraced my Irish ancestry (I don't know how far back you have to go to actually find the Irish in my ancestry, but we are pretty sure it is there).
So while Neen was updating the blog (after having attended a 3 hour service at the Cathedral), I was cooking up an Irish storm (paying homage to the gods of food and beer). The whole time, the bottle of Guinness was sitting on the counter giving me flash-backs from a trip to Ireland with my family during my college years. We were in Dublin for Bloomsday, 2004 (that would be the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday), and the commemoration included, of course, a traditional Irish Breakfast. And what is the most important part of this complete Irish breakfast? Guinness. A pint of Guinness! It was nine in the bleeding morning and there were these big Irish guys drinking pints of Guinness. Well, I admit to wimping out - I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My brother, on the other hand, happily drank the family supply of Guinness (I believe that brought him to 4 pints of Guinness with his breakfast - he was a source of great entertainment for the remainder of the day). It seems, somehow, appropriate to imagine these Irish guys drinking pints Guinness in the morning and then going home to a a big pot of meat cooking in Guinness. It would give a nice symmetry to their day.
However authentic this recipe might, or might not, be I was particularly pleased with the method for seasoning the meat in this recipe, which involved corn starch, paprika, salt, pepper, and some basil - okay, so I made up the basil :). This resulted in wonderfully tender pieces of meat with great seasoning. Even the uncooked chunks were delicious looking!
The end product was a wonderfully rich sauce, with a full bodied beer flavor, and generous portions of tender beef. Unlike other beef in beer recipes I have tried, this one really relishes in the flavor of the beer, making it the central point of the dishes flavor.
The only real problem I had with this recipe is that I don't like Guinness very much. (Okay, so maybe this is proof that you have to go a long way back to find the Irish). But, seriously, the bitter flavor of the Guinness was really emphasized in this sauce - giving it a very strange after-flavor. I tried a few quick tests to see if I could add something that would mask the flavor, but I had no big success there. Milk helped a little, but the added cream was a little too much for the rest of the flavors. I am not sure if there is an obvious way to fix this with Guinness, but I think if I were to make this again I would opt for a slightly lighter beer, maybe an ale.
You can find the original recipe at: Thyme for Cooking