Irish Beef Stew

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Americans have a curious way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We pinch each other if we forget to wear something green, we make green foods regardless if they have anything to do with Ireland, and we adapt traditional Irish recipes to our own taste.

The last is the case with this Irish beef stew. As any Irish person will tell you, lamb is the preferred meat for a good Irish stew. But here in the states we eat a lot more beef than lamb, so when we want to make a stew to celebrate all things Irish, it’s usually done with beef.

This particular stew has all of the classic trimmings of a good stew—meat, stock, plenty of root vegetables—with the addition of some Guinness extra stout, for its malty flavor and some Irish authenticity.

The recipe originally came to me through my friend Tomas, who got it from a chef friend in Europe, who had adapted a Bon Appetit recipe for stew by adding Guinness and some red wine. Every time we make this recipe it gets raves!

Irish Beef Stew Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Please use beef chuck stew meat that is well marbled with fat. Lean stew meat will end up too dry.

Save prep time by prepping the onions, carrots, and potatoes while the stock with beef is simmering in step 2.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 teaspoons of salt (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup of Guinness extra stout
  • 1 cup of hearty red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots and/or parsnips (3 to 4 carrots or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

1 Brown the beef: Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over the beef pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large (6 to 8 quart), thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.

Pat dry the beef with paper towels and working in batches, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until well browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over and brown on another side.

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2 Add garlic and sauté, then add stock, water, Guinness, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme Worcestershire, bay leaves, simmer: Add garlic to the pot with the beef and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beef stock, water, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.

Bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to the lowest setting, then cover and cook at a bare simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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3 Sauté onions, carrots in separate pan: While the pot of meat and stock is simmering, melt the butter in another pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots. Sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step 2 has simmered for one hour.

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4 Add onions, carrots, potatoes to beef stew, simmer: Add the onions, carrots, and the potatoes to the beef stew. Add black pepper and two teaspoons of salt. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off any excess fat.

Transfer stew to serving bowls. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Irish Beef Stew

Showing 4 of 279 Comments

  • Stephanie G Baker-Thomas

    I made this last night and it was delicious, but a bit thin even when thickened with a little flour and water. Next time I will only add 1 cup of water instead of two. I had to cook it for about 2 hours to get the meat tender. Also microwaved some sweet peas at the end and threw them into the stew to add color and bulk it up. Definitely will make this one again.

  • Rain

    Hi Elise! Another winner!! I made this tonight and we used carrots (no parsnips)…wow…delicious. We boiled it down quite a bit to make a thick stew and served it on mashed potatoes…yummy! Thank you so much for the recipe, this is a keeper!!

  • Gigi Maxfield

    I prepared the stew using this exact recipe (Minus parsnips because there weren’t any at the store). It was delicious! I was reluctant to use the stout and the red wine because I don’t care for alcohol but I must say, the alcohol evaporates leaving a rich flavor that was very much enjoyed by the whole family!

  • Joel

    If anyone has concerns about using alcohol in this recipe, don’t. It all cooks off. If you still have concerns, for religious reasons or other wise, I found 1/4 cup of “fre” which is NA wine, 1 cup of strong strong coffee and a teaspoon of coco powder makes a stew almost as good as this recipe, i don’t like thyme too much, so I use about half of what this recipe calls for.

  • Séagh Ní Mhathúna

    As an Irish person, I can tell you that we definitely don’t put alcohol in our stew. Irish beef stew was a meal my nanny made for me whenever I visited as a child, it’s something a whole family has on a cold day, so why would there be alcohol in it?

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