St. John’s Stout Stew. The perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal with local root vegetables and a gravy enriched with Yellowbelly Brewery’s St. John’s Irish Stout!
If a good beer makes a good stew then a great beer must make a great stew. Since sampling local St. John’s Stout from Yellowbelly microbrewery, I have been planning a version of Irish stew using this dark, flavourful beer to test this very thesis.
The restaurant and microbrewery located at the corner of George Street and Water Street here in Saint John’s, describes this stout as, “full of complex burnt ‘roasty’ flavours”. It is a very intense full flavoured beer indeed, with an appropriate bitter finish. All of these earthy flavours lend themselves well to a slow cooked, deep, rich beef stew.
Cooking a great stew is a process of building layers of flavour which meld together to form a dish much greater than the sum of its parts and this one is no exception. The layers of flavour begin with the beef which is dredged in flour before browning. The flour not only aids in browning the beef but also helps to thicken the stew’s rich gravy.
The beef is then slowly braised in the stout, beef stock, a little orange juice, garlic, onions, spices and fresh herbs until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Fantastic locally grown vegetables are a must in a stew of this caliber. Bland California-grown imports are practically an insult to the other quality ingredients, so I popped by Fagan’s in Churchill Square to secure some carrots, turnip and sweet parsnip along with some baby yellow potatoes.
The vegetables are roasted to caramelize them a little and bring out their natural sweetness before adding them to the stew, providing yet another layer of flavour to the pot. Finally, potatoes, sweet pearl onions and earthy mushrooms help to create as intensely tasty, balanced and complex a stew as the great stout on which it is based.
Serve it with some very simple to prepare Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread.
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You might also like our recipe for Newfoundland Pea Soup:
- 4 lbs beef roast, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes blade roast is good
- 24 ounces Yellowbelly St. John’s Stout Beer Guinness makes a fine substitute
- 8 cups good beef stock. If not using homemade, choose a good quality brand, low sodium stock
- 8 slices crisp cooked crumbled bacon
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 whole nutmeg grated
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 3 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 tbsp fresh thyme
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 6 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 small red onions minced
- 2 lbs carrots cut in coins or sticks
- 1 lb parsnip cut in large chunks
- 1 lb turnip cut in large chunks
- 1 lb pearl onions
- 2 pounds of fingerling or other baby yellow or red potatoes
- 2 to 3 cups button mushrooms
Season the beef with salt and pepper then dredge the cubes in plain flour before browning them in some canola oil in a large frying pan. Work in small batches so as not to crowd the pan. This will make browning the beef easier.
Transfer the cooked beef to a very large covered roasting pan or large dutch oven. I often use a large enamel covered turkey roaster. To the roasting pan add the beer, beef stock, bacon, orange juice, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, thyme, cloves, garlic and onions.
Place the covered roaster or large dutch oven in a 325 degree F oven for about 2 hours.
Meanwhile peel, wash and chop the carrots, parsnip, turnip and pearl onions.
Toss the vegetables in a little olive oil, pepper and sea salt. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast in a 425 degree F oven for about 20 - 30 minutes.
Add the roasted vegetables to the slow cooked beef along with the uncooked potatoes.
Return to the oven for about another 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. In the last 10 minutes of cooking time add the mushrooms.
Serve with Irish Soda Bread.
Please note that this recipe is intended to make a very large batch of stew suitable for up to a dozen people. You may have to cook it in 2 smaller covered roasting pans or if, you prefer, the recipe is easily halved.