There’s no greater comfort food than a hearty stew. And Irish Beef and Guinness Stew might be the king of them all because the gravy sauce has extra incredible flavour from the Guinness Beer! The beef is so soft you can eat it with a spoon. I like my sauce gorgeously thick, almost like gravy – no watery stews in my world!
While it takes time to slow cook, this is very straight forward to make and it can be made on the stove, oven, in your slow cooker or pressure cooker. I’ve provided directions for all!
It’s a blustery cold winter day here in Sydney. Mind you, “cold” by Sydney standards is nothing. Today, there’s a high of 10C/50F and the news commentators keep dropping in little comments about how freezing it is.
I know this is nothing! Though I do enjoy skiing, I’ve never lived in a truly cold place that snows in winter, where you have to shovel the snow from the driveway just to leave the house, where mittens and knitted hats aren’t just a fashion accessory. It sounds thoroughly romantic to me!! 🙂
I think the thing with Sydney-siders is that we are so spoilt with beautiful weather 9 months of the year that we aren’t properly equipped for the few days of the year when it really does get cold!
Days like today are when thick hearty stews are called for. Long and slow is what it’s all about.
And I cannot think of anything better to share with you today than one of the most epic stews in this world – Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.
Here is the key to Irish Stew – Guinness Beer. Guinness is so dark it is almost black and it’s why the gravy of the stew is such a beautiful deep brown colour. Guinness is also much richer than most beers, which you can see just by looking at the thick creamy head (the foam) that Guinness is famed for.
Here in Australia, Guinness can be found at most liquor stores – certainly all the main stream ones like Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland, 1st Choice Liquor.
Traditionally, Guinness Stew is made with lamb. But here in Australia, Guinness Stew is more commonly made with beef. I hope the Irish aren’t offended! 🙂 I’ve made it with lamb and to be honest, I do prefer it with beef.
Big chunky hunks of beef. Don’t even think about using tiny cubes of beef. It needs to be chunky pieces so it can be cooked for a looooong time to get all that flavour into the sauce!
I should have shown my hand in these photos. For size context – so you can see how BIG these pieces of beef are compared to my Baby Hands!
Though this Irish Beef and Guinness Stew takes time to cook, it is really easy, I swear. Once the lid goes on you just leave it for hours to simmer away gently. Totally hands off time.
And your patience is rewarded. With beef so tender you can eat it with a spoon. See? 🙂
The one thing I do differently to most Guinness Stew recipes, including very traditional Irish recipes, is to thicken the sauce slightly with flour. If you don’t do this step, the sauce is quite thin and watery, and while the flavour is still lovely, I really prefer the sauce to be more like a thin gravy.
Also, some recipes call for the beef cubes to be dusted with flour before browning. I do not add the flour into the stew this way because the flour has a tendency to burn and stick to the bottom of the pot and this burnt flavour can permeate throughout all the sauce (disaster!!!).
So my method has the same end result but is a lot safer – adding the flour into the onion mixture then dissolving that into the liquid. 🙂 And I think this last photo shows off how thick the sauce is very nicely.
I am so glad I have a tub of this in the freezer. I cooked most of the day but gave it all away. The minute I hit Publish on this post, I’m going to get cracking reheating some of this Irish Stew for dinner tonight! – Nagi x
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2.5 lb / 1.25 kg beef chuck ,brisket or any other slow cooking beef (no bone)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 onions , chopped (brown, white or yellow)
- 6 oz / 180g bacon , speck or pancetta, diced
- 3 tbsp plain flour (all purpose flour, Note 3 for GF)
- 1 x 440ml / 14.9oz can Guinness Beer (Note 1)
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups / 750 ml chicken stock/broth (or beef broth - Note 4)
- 3 carrots , peeled and cut into 1.25 cm / 1/2" thick pieces
- 2 large celery stalks , cut into 2cm / 1" pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme (or sub with 1 tsp dried thyme leaves)
Cut the beef into 5cm/2" chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.
Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
Cook until bacon is browned then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.
Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well) then add remaining ingredients and return beef into the pot (including any juices).
Add enough water so the beef & veggies are almost fully covered - see photo in post.
Cover, bring to simmer then lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours - the beef should be pretty tender by now. Remove lid then simmer for a further 30 - 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
Skim off fat on surface. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and thyme.
Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!!
1. Guinness Beer is a dark coloured rich Irish beer and it is the key flavouring for the sauce of this stew. You CANNOT taste it in the finished dish, it just melds into an amazing sauce. In Australia you can get Guinness at all major liquor stores.
There is no non alcoholic substitute unfortunately. If you cannot consume alcohol, substitute the Guinness with 2 cups water + 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce + 2 beef bouillon cubes crumbled. This will make it a classic beef stew. Taste FAB, it just isn't Irish Guinness Stew!
2. Directions for Oven and Slow Cooker:
- OVEN: Cover and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 160C / 320F. Remove then cook for a further 30 - 45 minutes to reduce sauce, per recipe.
- SLOW COOKER: After you add the Guinness into the pot, bring to simmer and ensure you scrape the bottom of the pot well. Transfer to slow cooker. If there is residual brown bits on the pot, add a splash of water and bring to simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot then transfer into slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients per recipe. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- PRESSURE COOKER: Follow slow cooker instructions, cook on HIGH for 40 minutes (this might seem longer than most but we're using chuck here which needs to be cooked for a long time until tender and also the pieces are large).
3. FLOUR: Most recipes do not use flour or if they do, the recipe says to dust the beef with flour before browning. I add flour because I like the sauce to be a bit like a thin gravy, not watery. I do not dust the beef before browning because the flour has a tendency to stick to the pot and it burns, then that burnt flavour permeates throughout the stew.
GLUTEN FREE OPTION - skip the flour in the recipe. Cook per recipe then right at the end, when the beef is tender and the liquid has reduced down, mix together 2 1/2 tbsp of cornflour/cornstarch with a splash of water. Add to stew, and watch as it thickens!
4. Beef vs Chicken Broth - I use chicken broth because the flavour is slightly more mild which lets the guinness flavour come through more. But beef broth works just as well and you can definitely still taste the Guinness!!
5. Nutrition per serving, excluding mashed potato. This nutrition is overstated because it does not take into account the fat that is skimmed off the surface.
Life of Dozer
Feeling very sorry for himself because a) he’s been benched due to a paw injury; and b) he didn’t get any Irish Stew. Don’t feel badly for him though. He lives a very cushy life and will be back on the beach tomorrow. 🙂