What could be nicer than a bowl of stew with some good mash? This is my recipe for beef in Guinness. There’s very few ingredients. And through the use of a few classical techniques, the finished dish is rich, filling and nutritious. There’s a bit of work at the start and then plenty of time to get on with other things as it bubbles away.
In my opinion, cheaper cuts of beef, when properly caramelised and cooked slowly, taste better than the best steak you can buy. Beef fillet, the so-called ‘Rolls-Royce of beef’, is prized for its texture and not its taste. It falls apart and you’re less likely to break your plate trying to chisel through it. But with these cheaper cuts, after long and slow cooking, we get that cut-with-a-spoon texture and an amazing flavour.
A quick look at the ingredients list will tell you that this is a relatively inexpensive meal to prepare. If you buy your vegetables from a fruit shop it will work out even cheaper. Try to get the thickest carrots you can. They’re easier to work with. Oxo beef cubes are great for this. Knorr’s beef cubes and stockpots are too beefy and have an unpleasant fermented celery aftertaste. By all means make your own stock, or buy a fresh stock. But because the stock isn’t the star of the show, Oxo cubes are more than fine.
We use a mirepoix (meer-pwah) in this recipe to add depth of flavour and thicken the sauce naturally. Mirepoix is a mixture of chopped carrot, celery and onion. As the sauce cooks down, the mixture will break down and thicken the sauce. It’s a little extra chopping, and one more pan to wash. It’s definitely worth it.
When you feel that the casserole is ready, there are a few ways you can thicken it. This recipe makes the casserole how I like it. But if your sauce hasn’t reduced and thickened how you would like, there are a few ways you can thicken it. The method I suggest is bringing it to a rapid boil for ten minutes. However, if the sauce tastes exactly how you want it, reducing it this way, will make it too rich. In this case, you could use some corn flour mixed with water. You will need to cook the corn flour out for four or five minutes to get rid of that raw flour taste and to allow it to thicken properly. If your sauce tastes too weak, try bringing it to a rapid boil and adding a few tablespoons of gravy granules. This sounds like heresy, but it’s your dish. Cook it to your liking. Read through a couple of times so you know exactly what you’re going to do.
I’ve suggested serving it with garlic mash. I think the crushed garlic adds a freshness to the dish. But you could also serve it with the fondant potatoes I gave a recipe for in the butterfly chicken recipe. I haven’t given a recipe for the mash. We all like it different ways. I make mine without milk, just butter (not margarine). I cook the potatoes until they’re almost falling apart in the pan, drain them, put them back on the heat for a few seconds to remove excess water. For garlic mash, I just add half a clove of crushed garlic before I start mashing it. Maybe a little salt and pepper. And if you’ve got some in the freezer, a few peas would be nice with this too.
Beef, Carrot and Guinness Casserole (serves 4)
400g stewing beef
500 ml Guinness
500 ml beef stock
3 large carrots
2 white onions
1/2 celery stick
1 tbsp flour
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
1 tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf (optional)
Prep: For the mirepoix, finely slice half a celery stick, two onions and half a carrot. This YouTube video will show you how to get them nice and small if you need to brush up on your chopping skills.
For the beef, add some seasoning to your flour and mix the flour mixture and the beef in a bowl. Chop the remaining carrots into one centimetre coins, or however you like them in your stew. You need them quite chunky so they don’t fall apart too much during cooking. For this reason, when you’re stirring the casserole, stir slowly and from the bottom of the pan.
Cooking: Get two pans on the heat, 2tbsp of olive oil or vegetable oil in each. You’ll need the largest pan you have for the beef; put this on a very high heat. You’ll need a medium pan for the mirepoix; add the mixture very early on; you want this on a low heat so that the mixture cooks without colour and gives off lots of steam with very little noise. Stir the mirepoix occasionally so that it doesn’t stick.
When the pan for your beef is very hot, add the floured beef and leave it for a few seconds and then stir to make sure that the beef doesn’t catch too much and it browns evenly. Don’t worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pan. As long as you don’t let this go black, it will add great flavour. When the beef is browned, add the Guinness to this pan. The Guinness will deglaze the pan and remove all of the caramelised bits from the bottom of your pan. You might want to turn the heat down a little so the Guinness doesn’t froth and spill over your pan.
Keep an eye on the mirepoix.
Add the beef stock, carrots, and sugar to the beef and Guinness. You can add the tomato puree and bay leaf at this point too, if using. They add another element to the dish, but I only use them if I already have them in the cupboard.
When the mirepoix has cooked out (about twenty minutes) add this to the casserole. Turn the heat right down and leave it cooking for 2 to 4 hours. The longer the better, but I’ve given you some suggestions for thickening the sauce.
This recipe is not fool-proof. You should deviate from it depending on your own tastes. Add more seasoning if it needs it. Add another stock cube if you want. Add a little more sugar if tastes slightly bitter.
Let it cool slightly before you serve. This will let the flavours settle down.
This is best served with raw Guinness.
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