So I couldn’t help but notice (and I’m sure other people couldn’t, either) that there is actually one blog category still waiting patiently for some love…my Food category.

I should be ashamed of myself.

One of my favorite things in the whole world, and I’ve been letting it just sit there for months, wondering when it was going to get some appreciation. Well, dear Food, I do appreciate you, and I’m going to prove it to you today…

…With some rockin’ beef stew.

Since St. Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching, I thought it might be nice to introduce a culturally appropriate recipe that will give us all a break from Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Not that I don’t totally love Corned Beef and Cabbage. Because I do. I just think we need a change of pace. St. Patrick’s Day seems to be kind of a whirlwind, party-your-face-off kind of day, and throwing a bunch of stuff in a crock-pot and saying “Thanks, Crockey, I’ll see you when I get the beer munchies!” seems just a little cliche. So I’m switching it up and showing you all how to make an Irish meal that takes a little more effort and love.

On a related note, let me point out that when I say “Irish meal,” I mean, “Meal that calls for dark, Irish-like beer and was named that way by the person who posted the recipe on the Internet.” I don’t want to give off the impression that my dear, old Irish great-great-granny has been handing this recipe down for generations…because she hasn’t, and I really don’t think I’ve got an old Irish great-great granny. That doesn’t make this stew any less awesome.

Aaaaaaanyway… let’s start making some Irish Beef Stew. You can check out the original recipe here, but I’ve done a few things differently.

Here’s our cast of characters:

The ingredients you’ll need:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
I bottle of Guinness beer (or similar dark stout)
1 cup of fine red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Salt and Pepper

A few quick notes: I used $4.99 red wine. We’re not snobs around here…or rich, for that matter. It also calls for Bay leaves and Parsley…I didn’t want to buy a jar of Bay leaves or a bunch of Parsley…We also used an (entire bottle of, rather than 1 cup of) “Old No. 38 Stout” by North Coast Brewing, simply because they had that available in singles.

Okay, here we go:
Start off by heating the olive oil in your pans on medium-high heat. Cook your stew meat, turning each peace over in order to make sure that all sides are brown (usually about 5 minutes). I used both this cast-iron skillet and my soup pot at the same time, so that I could make sure the meat didn’t get too crowded. You’ll move all of the meat to the soup pot once it’s all brown.

Once your meat is browned and in the soup pot, throw in the garlic and saute for 1 minute. After the minute is up, add your beef stock, beer, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, time, and Worcestershire (or “Werjerjer” in our house) sauce.

Stir all of these ingredients together and bring ‘em to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium or low (our crappy electric stove makes ‘medium’ way too hot for simmering) and let it simmer for 1 hour, occasionally giving it a little stirring love.
Melt the butter over medium heat in the same skillet you used to brown your beef (it’s got the brown, meaty goodness in there), and fill with about ½ of your vegetables.

Let’s pause for a minute here and talk about…
…Effort. I know, I know, all of these steps with the meat and the veggies may seem tedious, but these separate steps mean extra FLAVA, so put on some music and just chill while you cook. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Saute the potatoes, onions, and carrots until they are golden (about 15 or so minutes), set them aside in a bowl, and do the same thing for the other half. Once you’ve got all your veggies browned, let them hang out for the remaining 20 or so minutes while the broth finishes it’s simmering bizzness.
After the broth has been simmering for 1 hour, add your brown-tastic veggies to your broth, and let this concoction simmer for another 40 minutes. Feel free to drink a little of the wine and watch an episode of Ugly Betty.

After the stew has simmered for that last 40 minutes, you are ready to dish up a bowl full of awesome and enjoy the vegetables of your labors.

Doesn’t that make you feel like you can survive these next few weeks of Winter?

Beer Note
Something I’d like to mention is that Paul and I made this once before using Winterhook Winter Ale by Redhook Ale Brewery. I personally like the flavor of the stew better with this lighter beer, and Paul preferred the darker. Either way, the stew was awesome.

If anybody tries this recipe, please hop back on here and let me know how it went! I’d love to hear whether you like it or not, and if you added or changed things to make it your own.