Beef in Stout … seriously does it get any more Irish than that?
Can’t you just picture yourself in the library of an old Irish castle
Photo from advertising for Johnstown Castle, Ireland
(now a cozy hotel with every creature comfort imaginable, delightfully historic but with indoor plumbing, central heat and no ghosts or banshees or sieging Norman invaders), curled up in an overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fire, (yes, my post title was shamelessly misleading) soft tartan plaid cashmere throw draped over your lap.
A polite knock at the door, your dinner has arrived and just in time; that massage in the spa followed by several hours of reading by the fire have left you with quite an appetite. The handsome waiter, let’s call him Seamus, sets a large silver tray on the weathered walnut table by the window overlooking the lush green glens and rocky cliffs that lead down to the sea still glistening in the fading evening light.
Image from Discover Ireland.
Seamus ladles out steaming, heavenly scented bowls of rich stew topped with wedges of perfectly crusty bread. He flexes slightly as he pours two generous glasses of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, placing the yet to be finished bottle gently back on the table.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking … wouldn’t Beef in Stout, in Ireland, go great with an oh, I don’t know, Irish Stout? All I have to say to that is, I’m creating this travel fantasy so there will most certainly be French wine. Besides, a good French red goes with everything. Everything. And there are currently no invading Norman hordes, so we’re good.
Oh, and Belgian chocolate, that’s on the tray too. It also goes with everything. Truly.
And who is that second glass of fragrant red wine for?
Well, in my case, it is for my sweet, handsome husband who just came in from 36 straight holes of golf. Who did you think it was for?
Interestingly enough, I am picturing him in traditional Irish golf attire …
Just. Like. That.
No, I’m not poking fun. He could totally pull off the look. And besides, you don’t make it to seventeen years of marriage if you can’t laugh
at each other together.
Incidentally, I am also picturing him preferring to have an Irish Stout with his stew. And darn it, he is just too full for Belgian chocolates. But what to do with that second glass of wine? Good thing I’m on vacation.
Yes, that was a lot of set up for a Beef in Stout recipe. The laundry I have to do, dishes waiting in the sink and errands I need to run may have something to do with my need for Calgonesque travel fantasies.
Poof. Back to reality. At least there’s still the stew. And Calgon.
Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings
from Irish Pub Cooking, Parragon Books, serves 6
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 8 carrots, sliced
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 lb braising beef cut into cubes, I used chuck
- generous 1 3/4 cups stout
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- generous 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup shredded suet – I know, use butter
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
- about 4 Tbsp. water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the oil in an oven-proof cast iron casserole (like Le Creuset). Add the onions and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened.
Meanwhile, place the flour in a plastic bag and season well with salt and pepper.
Add the beef to the bag, close the top, and shake well to coat. Do this in batches.
Remove the vegetables from the casserole with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the beef to the casserole, in batches, and cook, stirring frequently, until browned all over.
Return all the meat and the onions and carrots to the casserole and sprinkle in any remaining seasoned flour. Pour in the stout.
Add the sugar, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 3/4 hours.
To make the herb dumplings, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the butter and stir in the parsley and add enough of the water to make a soft dough. Shape into small balls between the palms of your hands. Add to the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves and serve, sprinkled with parsley.
I have yet to visit Ireland and I gave up wine for Lent (well the second half of Lent anyway) but even so, I got to enjoy this wonderful stew with my sweet, handsome husband and the three little people who make reality (laundry, dishes and errands included) far better than any fantasy escape to a distant land could ever be.
Now where’s that Calgon.