Slow Cooker Guinness Stew
If molasses were a beer, it would be a Guinness stout—rich, thick, dark, caramelly, deeply flavorful. It is Ireland’s most popular brew with, get this, more than 1.8 billion pints sold around the world every year. (That’s a lot of beer!) Around here it’s a favorite for St. Patrick’s Day, and you can find stacks of Guinness displays at practically every store that sells beer. Naturally Guinness has made its way into flavoring many dishes, including breads and cakes as well as stews like this one. Guinness stew is Ireland’s answer to Belgian carbonnade, with stout instead of ale, and with root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, and turnips.
This stew we are making in a slow cooker (though you could make it in the oven as well). The controlled low and slow cooking is perfect for tenderizing the flavorful but tough pieces of beef chuck roast, while keeping the root vegetables intact. The trick is to brown the meat first, before adding to the slow cooker. That way you get all of the wonderful flavor from the browned meat in your stew. Enjoy!
These instructions are for making the stew in a slow cooker. If you don't have a slow cooker and would prefer to make the stew in the oven, cook everything in a large Dutch oven. After you add the liquid, bring it to a simmer on the stovetop then put it, tightly covered, in a 225°F oven for 6 hours (or a 300°F oven for 4 hours).
Note that different people have different sensitivities to bitter flavors. If Guinness Stout tastes bitter to you, then the stew will taste bitter as well. If it doesn't taste bitter to you, the stew should not taste bitter.
The recipe calls for young turnips which are much milder and sweeter than older large turnips which can be bitter. If you don't have access to young turnips, you can sub with more carrots and parsnips or potatoes.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 pounds (900 g) well marbled chuck beef roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pint (16 ounces, 475 ml) Guinness extra stout (make sure you use extra stout and not draught)
- 3 cups (700 ml) beef broth
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/2 pound (280 g) young turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in the butter, starting with the fattiest pieces of meat, fat side down in the pan. This will allow some beef fat to render out. Work in batches as to not crowd the pan. Sprinkle salt over the beef as it browns. Once browned on all sides, transfer the beef pieces into the slow cooker.
2 Add the onions and celery to the pan in which you just browned the beef. Sauté the onions and celery until they begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for a minute or two, then add a little of the Guinness, enough to make it easier for you to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Transfer the celery and onions into the slow cooker.
3 Add the rest of the Guinness, the beef broth, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and thyme to the slow cooker. Add two teaspoons of salt. Cover and cook on "high" for 4 hours, or "low" for 8 hours. When done, add more salt to taste. If you want, sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.