I’m not much of a drinker but I DO like a cold beer with a bbq or a Tex-Mex meal. I prefer light beers like Tecate or Sapporo/Asahi but I’ve enjoyed a stout or two in the past. (Just half a pint though cause it’s a pretty rich drink.) Over the years, I’ve seen those recipes for beef stews and steak and kidney pies using Guiness and been tempted to give them a try. This past Friday I picked up a can of Guiness draft beer and made a pot of stew with some blade steak.
Guinness Irish Beef Stew – serves 4-6
2-3 tbsp olive oil (or bacon fat**)
1 1/2 lbs beef, trimmed and cubed
1-2 (1/2 tbsp) large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cups beef stock (or chicken stock and 1 tbsp beef soup mix**)
1 cup Guinness stout
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 lbs potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large (1 1/2 cups) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
Optional flour slurry to thicken stew – 1 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp of cold water mixed until smooth
** What I used
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and saute until brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and reserve. Add a second tbsp of olive oil to the dutch oven, the rest of the beef, and brown. Remove to the bowl with the rest of the sauteed beef and reserve.
Add the onion and garlic to the oil in the dutch oven and saute for a couple of minutes. If needed, add a bit more of the olive oil. Add the tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.
Add the browned beef, beef stock, Guinness, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally depending on the cut of stew used. (If you wish, you can put the dutch oven in a 350 deg Fahrenheit oven for this time.)
Add the potatoes and carrots and continue simmering until vegetables and beef are very tender, another 30-40 minutes. Check periodically to make sure the meat and veggies are submerged.
Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and skim off any fat if your meat was very fatty. Salt and pepper to taste. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want your stew to thicken up.
(NOTE: For an even thicker stew, combine 1 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp of cold water. Transfer the dutch oven to the stove top, bring the stew to a boil and add the flour mixture. Cook for several minutes until thickened.)
Transfer stew to serving bowl.
(Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.).
And, since I had a couple of egg whites left over from making Saturday’s sugar cookies, which I ‘aged’ overnight on the counter, I made a second try at French macarons.
John Santiago’s French Macarons – makes about a dozen macarons (pairs)
1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
1 egg white, room temperature
1/4 cup almond flour (blanched ground almonds)
2 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
flavouring (almond, vanilla, or orange extract or 1 tsp or more espresso powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder)
gel food colouring
Combine the icing sugar with the almond flour. Sift twice to remove any big pieces of almond. Grind them in a food processor if necessary.
In a large, clean bowl, add the egg white/s and beat until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Add, regular white sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until soft peaks form. If using food colouring and flavour, add with the last of the sugar and continue beating until you get stiff peaks.
Add powdered sugar/almond flour to the egg white mixure. Start with 1/4 of the mixture. Stir in and then fold the rest into the lightened egg white. Stir around the edge of the bowl and fold into the middle. Repeat 20-30 times or until your mixture flows smoothly when dropped from 5-6 inches.
Pipe mixture onto parchment paper through a 1/2 inch round tip. (You may want to trace a pattern on the underside of your parchment paper as a guide to the size of the macarons so they’ll be uniform.) Tap pan a few times to get rid of air bubbles, then LET SIT FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES! until the outside of the disc is dry to the touch.
Preheat oven to 300 deg F.
Bake for 17-20 minutes! (Baking times will vary depending on the environment they have rested in. They can bake anywhere between 15 – 25 minutes.)
NOTE: They are ready when they are firm on their ‘feet’ and lift without sticking. You don’t want to rip off the top when you lift them up. 🙂
Remove them from the baking tray immediately when they come out of the oven. You can run a small offset spatula under them to make sure no areas are stuck and then place them on a wire rack to cool. By removing them immediately from the hot baking sheet it stops the cooking process so they don’t over cook and become hard. You want them to be crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
The stew was an unqualified success. The macarons less so as I still have to work on the timing of the addition and type of food colouring for the macarons. Liquid food colouring, added after you’ve beaten your egg whites to stiff peaks, will result in over beaten and hollow macarons. And overbaking will give you dry, hard centers.
You can see those errors in this macaron.
Next time I’ll invest in gel or paste food colouring and add it with the granulated sugar. Even so, this batch of macarons were much better than my first attempt and I can tentatively check it off my food bucket list.
I filled my macarons with melted chocolate as I hadn’t really PLANNED on success.