As it happens, I read the other day that stout and beer were once the drink of choice in England because the water was so contaminated. In the face of horrible diseases, stout was the safer choice and was readily consumed by men, women, and children. Apparently, men consumed about eight pints a day. I know some people who wouldn't mind doing that.
So, thanks to my friend, Amy, who loves dark beer, I happened to have a bottle of Guinness and used it in a stew. I only used half the bottle and was quite surprised by the pronounced the flavor of the beer. I'm not a big beer lover and it seemed overwhelming and somewhat bitter to me.
Not to worry, I found the perfect foil for the Guinness -- molasses! One-third of a cup of molasses mixed beautifully and didn't diminish the strong flavor of the stout. If you are an ardent lover of dark beers, add the molasses in small amounts to suit your taste.
I didn't want to spend a lot of time letting it stew, either, so I used sirloin instead of stew beef, and it turned out well without having to cook for hours. And I shaved off a little prep time by leaving the peel on the potatoes.
Almost Irish Stew
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 pounds sirloin
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon
1/2 bottle Guinness stout
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 large red-skinned potatoes cut into approximately 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 carrots, sliced
2 teaspoons mustard
1/3 cup molasses
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 16-ounce bag frozen peas
1. Slice the sirloin into 1 inch cubes. Place into a bowl with flour and toss to coat.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large stew pot. When hot, brown the beef. Three minutes on one side, turn a couple of times and brown three minutes more. Remove the beef from the pot and store in the refrigerator.
3. Add the bacon to the pot and cook. Turn down the temperature so the bits in the bottom of the pot don't burn. When cooked, remove the bacon and chop coarsely. Return to pot.
4. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the Guinness and scraping the bottom. Add the potatoes, garlic, and carrots. Add enough water to just cover it all. Add the molasses, bay leaf, thyme, mustard, and paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so it simmers, and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots can be easily pierced with a fork.
5. Return the beef to the pot and add the frozen peas. Cook 5-8 minutes.
Serve and enjoy the rest of the Guinness with your meal!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!