I’m not a runner, but I imagine that the fifth mile of a marathon feels something like midwinter in New England: no longer “the beginning,” yet oh so far from the end. It’s the time of year when chattering teeth and shivering limbs cannot be cured simply by walking through the front door; you need a little extra help to chase away the chill. Like a steaming-hot bowl of soup — or better yet, hearty Irish stew.
Irish stew typically is made with a combination of meat (usually beef or lamb), vegetables, and broth. Our version uses beef (though you can swap out some or all of it for lamb), as well as carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms. For those who lament the lack of potatoes, consider this: Instead of incorporating grainy, mushy potato chunks in the broth, you can just pour the finished stew over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes to create an extra-buttery, extra-comforting winter dish.
As for the Guinness? A friend of mine often jokes that most dishes can benefit from the addition of a splash of beer, and in truth flavorful brews can lend complexity to vegetables and meats, help leaven baked goods, and even take a starring role in popular noshes like beer-battered fish and beer cheese. In this stew recipe, Guinness stout gives the broth depth and a rich chocolate color. Most of the alcohol will evaporate during the cooking; however, to avoid it altogether and/or to go gluten-free, you can swap it for extra broth, gluten-free stout, or a 50-50 mix of dry red wine and water or broth.
Note: This beef and Guinness stew was inspired by the classic Yankee recipe for beef, mushroom, and Guinness pie and uses many of the same ingredients. If you have stew leftovers, it’s a cinch to drain off a little broth, pour the stew into a pie pan or cast-iron skillet, top it with a pie crust or puff pastry, and bake according to the pastry’s instructions. It will feel like a completely new meal while being guaranteed delicious.
2 pounds sirloin steak, uncooked, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons oil
7 shallots, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 cups Guinness
2 14½ oz cans beef stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2¼ cups halved baby carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped white mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1½ teaspoons dried)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1½ cups frozen small green peas
After trimming off any excess fat, put the cubed beef into a bowl and toss with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the beef and sear until browned on all sides; remove with a slotted spoon and place into a separate bowl.
Turn heat down to medium; add shallots and garlic and cook until golden. Add flour and cook 3 minutes, then add Guinness, stock, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Cook 1 minute, then add meat, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours.
Stir in thyme, rosemary, and peas; cook 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls, preferably over mashed potatoes.