The stew season is here! My Irish Beef Stew recipe might use the simplest ingredients in your pantry but produces the most complex flavour and tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef. Would you like to know my secret ingredient?
Make this beautiful dish for St. Patrick’s Day as well as our Traditional Colcannon recipe for an Irish feast.
What gives Irish beef stew its rich and delicious flavour?
To put it simply this beef stew gets a lot of its flavour from Guinness.
Through almost no effort of your own and by simply adding a can of stout into the pot, you can end up with deep and robust beef stew that will warm you up from the inside.
As you can see from the ingredient photo above, there is absolutely nothing fancy that goes into my beef stew. So how do we avoid getting a bland, flavourless stew?
There are a few tricks that will prevent that from happening. I usually talk a lot of about quality ingredients but this time it’s all about slow cooking and using a couple of cooking techniques properly.
Beef, onions, carrots, celery and potatoes are the most common players when it comes to making an Irish stew. All affordable and staple ingredients in most homes.
Apart from beef, of course. Beef is always on the pricey side.
What is so great about stews is that you can successfully use cheaper beef cuts and have stellar results as opposed to Beef Stroganoff where steak is necessary.
I recommend using stewing beef available in supermarkets or beef shoulder. I personally often find it is cheaper buying a beef shoulder roast and cutting it up in bite-sized chunks at home.
If you want to go a more authentic route, use lamb for a traditional Irish stew.
What makes cheaper and tougher beef turn into tender and luscious little bites is longer cooking time. Beef Stews are at their best when cooked low and slow. This recipe is no exception.
You can cook your beef stew in a Dutch oven as I’ve done here or you can use your slow cooker or a pressure cooker such as Instant Pot.
Slow Cooker Method
Follow the recipe up to step 4, then add carrots and potatoes and cook in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
Pressure Cooker Method
Follow the recipe up to step 4, then add carrots and potatoes and cook in a pressure cooker in Manual Mode for 45 minutes.
Whatever method you choose, you will have the same rich and flavourful beef stew if you take the time to follow the initial steps of browning the beef and cooking the onions until soft and translucent.
Before I move any further I would like to talk a bit more about different cooking stages that ensure the success of this recipe.
As I mentioned earlier beef stews are extremely easy and forgiving recipes. They are based around slow cooking but there are a few other things that contribute to that success.
Recipe Top Tips
Browning the beef until you see beautiful golden crust on it as shown in photo 1 in the collage above. This step is single handedly responsible for the depth and richness of the stew.
Taking the time to cook the onions. I see this step often being overlooked. It literally hurts me to see so many cooking videos on Facebook where onions are briefly stirred, then liquids added.
Onions have to be cooked for at least 10 minutes to get the full benefit of that beautiful ingredient in dishes. They need time to release their natural sugars and change the texture from crispy to soft and luscious. They also need to be cooked over low heat to prevent them from burning and turning bitter.
Deglazing the pan/pot aka scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon when adding the liquid. This simple but necessary step helps imparting more flavour into the dish.
Do you have any tricks for richer and better tasting stew? Please share them in comments!
For more comfort food for cold weather recipes, check out:
- Beef in Truffled Cream Sauce
- Russian Sweet and Sour Beef Stew Solyanka
- Beef Goulash
- Pork Loin Steaks in Creamy Shallot and Mushroom Sauce
If you make any of these recipes, I would love to see your photos! Simply tag @vikalinka in your Instagram snaps!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1.5 lbs stewing beef
- 1 onion medium
- 3-4 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cup water or beef stock, divided
- 440ml/1 can Guinness or other stout
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 carrots medium
- 4 waxy potatoes such as red potatoes medium
- Preheat the oven to 160C/300F
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven/cast iron casserole pot and brown the beef chunks seasoned with salt and pepper over medium heat until golden. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding.
- Move the browned beef to one side of the pot and lower the heat, then add chopped onions and thyme, cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes until tender. Then add minced garlic and cook briefly for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and stir the beef, so it's coated, then add the water or beef stock if using and scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula to release the brown bits at the bottom. Add the Guinness, one or two bay leaves, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Then cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
- After one hour take out of the oven and add carrots and potatoes cut into large chunks to the pot, stir and add 1 cup of water, cover with a lid and continue cooking the stew in the oven for 1.5 hours. Take the lid off for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Serve with bread and sprinkled with some fresh parsley for more flavour.
- I recommend using stewing beef or beef shoulder roast cut into chunks for this Irish Beef Stew
- Use waxy potatoes such as red-skinned potatoes, which hold shape and not fall apart in stews and soups.