Yeah, but is it Irish? Well, if this ever was a traditional Irish recipe, it isn't anymore. It originated here, but without potatoes. Now, I ask you, how can you have Irish Stew without potatoes? And when I added the potatoes, there wasn't enough liquid/stew-juice, so I added water and more beer, and some flour to thicken it up. It was delish. If you ask me, an excellent stew. But again, traditional Irish? Prolly not. Except in spirit.
Traditional Irish Stew was made with sheep. Mutton or lamb - but the thought of eating cute little fuzzy lamb just turns me off. (Now, how I can stand to eat cow once in a while, but I can't eat lamb, you might ask? I don't know. I'm weird.) Anyway, according to about.com
Irish stew, "ballymaloe" or "stobhach gaelach" as it is called in Gaelic, is traditionally made of lamb or mutton (less tender sheep over two years of age), potatoes, onions, and parsley.
So, basically the "tradition" was ... use what you have on hand, in this case, sheep and potatoes. The original recipe has evolved, but remained true to tradition in one respect - folx continued to make stew using what they had on hand. When they couldn't get lamb, they used beef. When they couldn't get potatoes, they used parsnips, carrots, or barley. Or all of the above. The original Irish stew was a thick and hearty meal, meant to keep a body warm and on your feet for many hours of hard work.
Beef & Guinness Stew
2 pounds lean stewing beef
3 tbsp oil
5 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato puree dissolved in 4 tbsp water
1 1/2 - 2 cups Guinness stout beer
2 cups carrots, sliced diagonally
4 large potatoes, sliced into chunks
Prepare the meat - Cut meat into cubes about 2 inches square. Toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp oil. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over meat and toss. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add onion slices (I like them long and thin), crushed garlic and tomato puree to the pan. Cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a large casserole dish or stovetop pan, depending on how you plan to cook the stew. If using a casserole dish, preheat oven to 300°.
Now for the beer - This is what really makes the flavor of this stew. Pour about 1/3 cup of the Guinness into the meat pan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices on the pan. Pour this over the meat along with the remaining Guinness.
In a separate bowl add 3 tbsp flour to 1 1/2 cups cold water. Whisk until flour is dissolved, then pour over the meat. Stir in with the beer and juices. Add potatoes and carrots to the pan, and stir.
If using the stovetop method, cover the pan and leave on low-medium heat to simmer until the meat is tender and the potatoes are soft - about 2-3 hours. If using the oven, cover the casserole dish and leave in oven about the same amount of time. Taste about 1/2 way through, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with Irish Soda Bread for a completely wonderful taste experience.