Have you ever had Guinness Beef Stew? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing!
A few years ago I got to visit Killarney, Ireland and was amazed at how good the food was. I wasn’t expecting the cuisine to be very exciting or that delicious.
What I found was a country that enjoyed good food and young creative chefs that had embraced the local movement and raised the culinary level to new heights!
While their creativity created amazing new dishes, they hadn’t forgotten their roots and continued to serve hearty old-world Irish dishes like this Guinness Beef Stew.
I was fortunate enough to learn how to make this stew while I was in Killarney and this is the recipe I was taught (with a few minor variations). I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
What do I need to make Guinness Beef Stew?
The ingredients are pretty basic with the only real change being whether you add potatoes to the stew or serve the stew over mashed potatoes. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t change up the recipe to suit your tastes. Remember recipes are guidelines.
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Guinness Beef Stew. In chef speak this is called the Mise en Place which loosely translates into everything in its place. Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed the cooking process, but it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
*(beef stock and beer are missing from the picture)
What type of vegetables do I need for Beef Stew?
Most chefs or home cooks would tell you that the three basic ingredients (aka holy trinity) are the basis for any stew. Those would be carrots, onions and celery. The size shape and variety really doesn’t matter.
- Cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces or larger if you don’t mind cutting them as you eat.
- Peel the potatoes or don’t. It’s up to you. You can also use any variety of potato you like.
- Use any variety of onion you prefer. I used pearl onions but they broke up as they cooked so you really couldn’t tell they were cute little onions.
- Generally, carrots are orange these days, but if you find heirloom carrots in hues of purple, yellow and white, by all means, use those.
- I used mushrooms in my stew because that’s how I was taught and I love mushrooms. You don’t need to use mushrooms if you don’t like mushrooms.
- You could use whole tomatoes instead of tomato paste. But I prefer the rich flavor the tomato paste helps build.
- Garlic is an important ingredient, and trust me you won’t taste it in the stew. But it does play an important role in developing flavors. I wouldn’t leave it out, but it’s up to you.
**Other vegetables you can add are parsnips, turnips, peas, green beans and corn. That might be straying from tradition but if you like it, it’s okay!
What Type of meat should I use for Beef Stew?
The best (and least expensive) cut of beef for stews is chuck. That comes from the front shoulder of the steer. The beef round which comes from the rear muscle is also a good choice. The chuck has more connective tissue and that’s why it’s my first choice.
The cheaper cuts of meat come from muscles that work more and would generally be tougher. But that also means more collagen-rich connective tissue. This connective tissue dissolves into the meat, adding to the body and richness to the stew that more expensive cuts of meat won’t give you. It also keeps the meat tender and moist which is exactly what you want with stew meat.
Other good choices would be bone-in short ribs and oxtail.
Lets’s get started making our Guinness Beef Stew.
Can I make this stew with lamb?
You sure can! Some of the Irish stews I had in Ireland were made with lamb and the lamb in Ireland is the best I’ve ever had.
Just follow the instructions as written substituting the beef. You may have more fat to skim off, but other than that, it should be delicious!
The first step is pan-searing the beef cubes in a very hot pan with olive oil. Turn the cubes so that all the sides are seared. Remove all the beef from the pan.
Add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms to a large pot and let them cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the bacon. Let the ingredients cook for another 5 minutes to let the bacon cook down.
I use my favorite 6 qt. Copper Core 5-ply All-Clad pot for this stew. It’s classified as a roaster and is a great pan for use in your kitchen, making soups, stews and sauces.
Next, add the carrots and celery to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes then add the flour and let the mixture cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to let the flour cook, getting rid of the raw flavor.
The next step is deglazing the pan with a bottle of Guinness. I used the Foreign Extra Stout because that’s what I had on hand. Feel free to use any variety of Guinness Stout that you like to drink. You can (gasp) substitute other stouts or porters that you might have on hand.
Deglazing the pan helps unstick all of the delicious little bits that have attached themselves to the bottom of the pan during the cooking process. By adding a cooler liquid to the hot pan it helps release those tasty bits. What’s left on the pan can be dislodged with a spoon.
The last step is adding the beef cubes back into the pot with the potatoes, beef stock and thyme (bay leaves are optional if you’d like to add one). Bring the stew to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot allowing the stew to simmer for 2 hours.
Check on the stew occasionally, stirring the pot when you do. After two hours, remove the lid from the pot and turn down the heat to simmer and allow it to continue to cook for 1 -2 hours. This is when the magic happens.
Allowing the stew to cook a little longer will make the beef tender and the broth rich and ah-mazingly flavorful. At this point, all you need to do is check the seasonings adding more sea salt and black pepper if needed.
Can I make this stew in a slow cooker?
Yes you can. I would suggest searing the bacon, meat and vegetables first. That will give you the best flavor. Allowing the caramelization adds a lot of flavor to the stew.
Can I make this stew in an Instant Pot?
Yes you can. You know your instant pot and how to work it to get the best results. Here are my suggestions to help give you the best results. Adjust them as needed.
- Turn on the sauté function on the Instant Pot. Add the olive oil then the stew meat. Sear the beef for about 2-3 minutes on each side, allowing the meat to caramelize. Remove the beef and set aside until needed.
- Add more oil if needed, then continue to saute the bacon until it begins to crisp up a little. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Continue to cook the vegetables for 5-7 minutes. Again we want to caramelize the vegetables to bring out the depth of flavors.
- Deglaze the pan with the Guinness using a spoon to get all the delicious bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the beef stock and tomato paste. Mix well.
- Add the browned beef into the pot (including any juices)and potatoes.
- Follow instructions for pressurizing your Instant Pot and push the “Meat/Stew” button which should default to 35 minutes.
- Your pot should show OnPressure will start building pressure. Because of the large amount of ingredients this can take up to 25 minutes. Once you build up adequate pressure the 35 minutes cooking process will begin.
- When the cooking process has finished, allow your Instant Pot to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before releasing the pressure.
If your stew looks a little thin, make a roux to add to the stew to thicken the gravy. In a small pan melt two tablespoons of butter and add two tablespoons of flour to the melted butter. Over low heat let the roux cook for 3-4 minutes.
Remove a cup or more of the liquid from the pot and whip in the roux to the liquid. When the roux has been mixed in well, add the mixture back into the instant pot and mix well. Bring the heat back up to finish thickening the sauce.
Stoudt is a bitter beer and you might think it will make the stew bitter, but in truth the flavors enhance the stew. But if it does taste bitter to you, try adding a little brown sugar.
If your stew isn’t thick enough add one tablespoon of cornstarch to one cup of liquid from the stew. This will help thicken the stew. You can also make a slurry with equal parts corn starch and water mixed together and added directly to the stew.
Chuck, Short Ribs and Oxtail are my preferred choices for beef stew. The cheaper cuts of meat come from muscles that work more and would generally be tougher. But that also means more collagen-rich connective tissue. This connective tissue dissolves into the meat, adding to the body and richness to the stew that more expensive cuts of meat won’t give you. It also keeps the meat tender and moist which is exactly what you want with stew meat.
Serve this deliciousness with crusty bread and good Irish butter and you’ll be living the good life!