Beef Stew on the Stove
Beef stew on the stove is perhaps the closest you can come to feeling part of old Ireland. It just gives you that great kind of primeval satisfaction, while embracing the mod cons of our age. Because making beef stew on the stove top is of course removed from the open flame and iron cauldrons of the past.
But the sense still remains. It’s a good compromise between falling into nostalgia and carrying on deep-rooted Irish food traditions in our modern era.
Stove top Beef Stew, a timeless endeavor
Part of this is of course the timeless nature of a stove top beef stew. It may be cooked a little differently than in more primitive times, but a true classic never fades. It’s in fashion in any era – otherwise it’s not a classic. And the vogue of a beer beef stew like this continues to thrive because it’s raison d’être hasn’t changed.
It’s still crafted from simple ingredients, still hearty as heck.
Still designed to prop you up and provide both comfort and energy for the struggle.
Just like most traditional Irish dishes – and arguably Irish potatoes as a whole, stove top beef stew recipes like this one continue to be called upon to fulfill a certain role. And fulfill it they certainly, do.
That’s what you call a classic.
Making your beef stew on the stove starts far from the kitchen, in your local purveyor of fine muscle meat and offal. Ask your own butcher, but from age-old Irish wisdom we know that the ‘best’ stew comes from the ‘worst’ meat. Strange, right? But a great stroke of luck for the impoverished Irish peasant of the potato farm.
Because if they’d had the audacity (or financial ability) to throw rib eye or tenderloin into the stewing pot, they’d be punished for their lack of thrift. It’d surely shrivel up into tough little chunks – and who wants to chew their stew?
Much better to get your hands on a cut from the chuck, or some round. Muscle meat that has gotten a good workout over the years, compacting itself into connective tissue, and which takes time to break down.
For time is the secret recipe of any beer stew. The high maintenance, serve-me-now pout of sirloin has no place here. You want a mean-faced hulk of a cut, one you’ll really have to work on if it’s to give up the goods.
If you’re watching your cholesterol, flank or top round are good options, combined with trimming some of the bigger pieces of fat. But remember, it’s all that lovely marbled fat that will ultimately give your Irish stew that bit more flavor.
Making beef stew on the stove
Adequately tough and cheap muscle meat sourced and selected, you’ll want to cut it into gob-sized chunks. The best way is usually to Slice straight through the meat, from top to bottom, in strips. No need to Saw or Hack away at it, just slice your strips and then slice these across, into pieces about the size of your thumb.
Again, depending on your (wariness of your) cholesterol count, it might be a good idea to trim the heavier pieces of fat. But these will melt in the pan anyway. Everything else being equal, the best taste will be achieved by leaving the fat intact. Plus you can always Skim later on if it’s really too much.
Next, we made up a flour mix for coating the beef. In went 1/3 cup flour, a pinch of Black Pepper, and a pinch of Salt (Himalayan, but use whatever you have). We also tossed in a pinch of Peri-Peri, just to add a little bit of Oomph. Traditional? Nope. We used alcohol free porter beer, so we figured we deserved a bit of a kick.
You can leave it out, of course. A Cayenne is a good sub-in if you don’t have peri-peri, or choose another altogether, or even get creative and make your own. But do remember it’s an Irish stew…traditional Irish curry is the Pageant of Ingratiation a politician puts on to win the favor of the populace come election time.
Preparing the beef and aromatics
Now you’ll want to Coat your beef chunks. You can simple Stir them about in the flour mix, or a fun way is to Throw the lot into a Food Storage Bag and Shake, Shake, Shake it all about the Kitchen.
Once you’ve Shake, Shake, Shaken the meat all about, Split the batch in half. Heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil in your Stewing Pot, and on Medium-High Heat Brown the first batch of meat, Briskly Tossing it in the oil.
Once it has taken on a desirable color, Remove from the pan and Add another 2 Tbsp oil and repeat with the other batch. Using a slotted implement to remove the meat is best, as you want to Sauté the onions in whatever fat is left on the pan.
Some like to Add Irish bacon into proceedings, too. If you are one of those (obviously salt-driven) persons, Lightly Brown that succulent Irish pork in the pot first, then add the beef. (Three or four) thick cut Irish rashers will do the job, perhaps cutting them into three parts before leaving to simmer (they’ll break apart during cooking anyway).
You want to just take the edge off the aromatics, so roughly Chop the Onions and Sauté them for about 4-5 minutes. Mince your cloves of Garlic and Invite them to get down to the sauté swing, too. Continue to sauté until things get decidedly fragrant. Once you get the Whiff, get ’em outta there. In the meantime, you can make your Beef Broth.
This is a beer beef stew, so let’s crack that porter beer open. Depending on how many you’ve had and how strongly you wish to slur the point, cooking with Guinness is at this stage arguably a cooking style in its own right. It seems like everything and anything has been whipped up using it, from spreads to cupcakes, just consult your local Irish dishes Pinterest board.
Although that particular brand of porter beer is embedded in Irish culture, some find Guinness a little too astringent for beer beef stew. It’s an acquired taste, so you could end up adding larger amounts of tomato paste to neutralize the tang.
With this in mind, our stove top beef stew uses a sweeter porter beer. An alcohol free one, even. Because it’s just about the taste.
Beef beer stew
So Guinness or otherwise, once you’ve removed your onions and garlic from the pot Pour in half the Porter Beer. Now just Deglaze the pot, Scraping all those lovely bits that have stuck to the inside.
Your sticky bits unstuck, Add everything that has been waiting in the wings:
Carrots (cut chunky, 1-inch-thick rounds)
Potatoes (chopped into pieces about an inch thick)
Recipe for Dublin coddle
Like the urbane recipe for Dublin coddle, the list of ingredients for beer beef stew will vary. So, it’s up to you. If you’ve got Parsnips, Throw ’em in. If you detest Parsnips, Throw ’em out. Irish stew is all about root vegetables, so see what you can muster.
Irish dishes are notoriously “lightly” seasoned, so this can also be played around with. Parsley, and lots of it, typically finds its way into the pot. Dublin coddle is also quite a salty dish, so if you’re using bacon alongside your beef in this Irish stew be aware that it’ll be up there on the sodium chloride scale.
Alas, on account of Irish Buzz realizing that Parsley is the spawn of a being way more evil then the Devil, and a lot less vague in his intentions, Parsley did not find its way into our pot. A large Bay Leaf and a Sprig of Thyme did. Also central to Irish food traditions, they go in whole, to be Fished out later on.
Finishing your beef stew on the stove
Now you’re done, essentially. Throw in what’s left of the beer and Bring to a boil. If you want more of a beef stew soup, you can also add more liquid.
Reduce to Low Heat so that the pot is just simmering. You’ll want to leave it there for the next 2 hours, until the meat is lovely and tender. Those gnarled nutrition bombs known as Irish potatoes will also be putty on your fork by that time.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig, then Serve piping hot.
Oh, how ever so pleasant.
The secret recipe of beef stew on the stove top is surely evident to all. Classic ingredients, classic cauldron cooking, classic taste. Confident it in its ability to stand the test of time, knowing that as the fads come and go those in search of the genuine will continue to gravitate toward it.
Ingredients for Beef Stew on the Stove
- 3 lbs (1.35 kg) Stewing Beef
- 7 oz / 200 g (3 large) Carrots
- 1 ½ lbs / 700 g (2 large) Potatoes
- 1 lb / 450 g (2 large) Onions
- [4 thick cut Back Bacon Rashers – 6 oz / 170 g]
- 4 cloves Garlic
- [Other roots vegetables of your choice, Parsnips, Celery Root, etc.]
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/3 cup (40 g) all-pupose Flour
- 12 oz (350 ml) Porter Beer
- 12 oz (350 ml) Beef Broth
- Pinch of Salt, Black Pepper
- [Pinch of Peri-Peri or another highly pungent pepper]
[ ] – optional ingredient
- Slice Stewing Beef into thumb-sized pieces.
- Coat Beef in Mixture of Flour, Black Pepper, Salt [and Peri-Peri (or another hot spice)], by Stirring together or Shake, Shake, Shaking in a Food Storage Bag.
- Add 2 Tbsp Olive Oil to the Stewing Pot and Briskly Brown half the meat over Medium-High Heat. Add another 2 Tbsp oil and brown the other half. [Lightly brown 4 Irish rashers]. Leaving the fat in the Pot, Remove the meat and Set aside.
- Roughly Chop 2 large Onions and Mince 4 cloves of Garlic. Sauté both in the fat-glazed Pot for 4-5 minutes. Once fragrant, Remove from heat.
- Pour half the Porter Beer into the pot and Scrape free any bits that have stuck to the inside. Make 12 oz (350 ml) Beef Broth.
- Add your ingredients to the pot: 3 large Carrots (chopped into 1-inch rounds); 2 large Potatoes (chopped into cubes about an inch thick), 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste, Browned Beef, Beef Broth, 1 large Bay Leaf, 1 sprig Thyme.
- Bring to a boil and Reduce heat. Leave to simmer for 2 hours.
- Remove the herbs and Serve these Bowls of Delight whilst piping hot.
[ ] – optional process
Bonus salutation: 🙏
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