Yesterday was Sunday and the clocks went forward for Day Light Savings. I was completely unaware of the time change as I had no reminders. I don’t turn on the television so there was no one making the big announcement telling me to put my clock forward an hour! I went out into the back garden to maybe do a little work but it was so cold I didn’t feel Spring in the air in the least. It actually felt like a brisk October.
The weather made me feel like cooking something hearty for dinner. I am not really a “beef person” but I had an urge to get dinner on early and make a slow-cooked stew perhaps? Beef lends itself well to a dish like that. I had this bright idea to cook it in Guinness and then I thought a little smoked paprika would go well with that flavor. Cooking meat in beer or ale has certainly been done many times before, however, I wanted to give my own version a try. I used pearl onions which curbed the bitterness of the sauce and gave a little burst of sweetness. The meat was out-of-this-world tender and plates were licked clean (literally)! I also cooked the vegetables (carrots and potatoes) separately and added them at the end. In doing that they kept their flavor and did not turn to mush. You have to try cooking this – it won’t disappoint!
You will need: 3 1/2 lbs beef cut into chunks. (I used a pot roast – but you could use brisket. also I never buy the already “cubed” stuff. It always seems to be too small for slow cooking and I also think you get a better cut of meat when you buy it as a whole piece and cut it yourself), 2 cups pearls onions, 6 cloves garlic, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 can of Guinness (it is just under 2 pints or 14.9 fl. oz.), 1 tbs flour, 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 bay leaves, 2-3 lbs baby potatoes, 2 cups baby carrots, salt & pepper to season, olive oil for frying.
Preheat oven 300*
Put water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add onions and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain into colander and let them cool.
Cut meat into big chunks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Take out you dutch oven or heavy casserole and put on high heat. Add 2 tbs of olive oil and wait until it just starts to smoke. Add meat in a single layer (don’t crowd or the meat will not brown) and cook on both sides until nice and brown. Don’t fiddle with it very much – 2 minutes or so per side. As meat cooks put onto plate (or upside-down lid of casserole – which is what I used) and continue like this until all the meat has been seared. You will need to add more oil as you go.
When onions are cool enough to handle using a scissors and cut the end that the plant grew from and squeeze the onion out of the skin. It should pop out. Take skin off garlic and slice thinly.
When meat is cooked, turn heat down to low, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Put meat back into casserole (without the collected juices, which you will add when you add the Guinness) and stir about to incorporate. Add the paprika and the flour and stir. Add the Guinness and the collected meat juices and herbs and bring everything to a boil. Cover and place in oven for 2 1/2 hours.
While stew is in oven boil potatoes and carrots until tender (boil separately). Drain in colander and set aside until ready to add to the stew. After stew has been in oven for alloted time take out and check. If meat is very “fork-tender” add the vegetables and stir gently. Cover and leave on stove-top for 15 minutes to let the vegetables meld with the sauce, and the meat to rest. Taste sauce for seasoning and add if it is not to your preference.
If the meat is not ready return to oven for another 15 or so minutes and then follow the same steps with regard to the vegetables and seasonings.
You could also not bother with the carrots and potatoes (although that is exactly how I had mine – my daughter & son did not care for the potatoes so I gave them some leftover rice and pasta instead) and just eat with bread or a pasta, like tagliatelle?