Irene’s Beer Stew
In yet another chapter of my quest for all things beef and beer, I give you one of my favorite beer stews of all time. Yes, that’s right, I’m not calling it a beef stew, no, because the magic of this hearty dish ain’t the beef. Nope! It’s the beer and as such, this is going to be named in a manner that pays homage to the true power here. Something about that combination of beef and beer in a stew always seems to get me. I think part of my brain may be hardwired for some sort of predisposition towards this combination because no matter how many times or variations I’ve had it, it’s always amazing to me. Then again, I could just be onto something totally ingenious…what do you think?
Besides the fact that it has beef and beer, I am particularly fond of this recipe as this was one of the first things that I made during my cooking resurgence following my divorce and is one of the first dishes that reopened my eyes to the enjoyment that is cooking…so it holds a very fond place in my heart. Nostalgia aside, this stew really is one of the best things to come out of my kitchen and is the perfect, hearty meal to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold wintry evening. Given that it’s going to be 20 out today with probably some “2-3” of snow for those of us on the wonderful East coast, I vote that this be dinner for tonight.
What’s equally nice about this (and with most stews) is that with a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, some time, and the right preparation, you can make something totally amazing. The beer serves here not just as a flavor foundation for the broth by giving it good body and depth, it also helps to tenderize the meat during the stewing process. Paired with the caramelized onions, thyme, and steak sauces, what you end up with is a stew that’s so rich, hearty, and savory that you’ll ask yourself why you have never made this before and then quickly call your friends and family over to share with them this wondrous discovery!
Irene’s Beer Stew
Adapted from Gourmet | March 2000
2 1/2 lb onions, sliced thinly
About 1/2 cup canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes and patted dry
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 cup)
2 jalapenos, minced (you can seed these before mincing to reduce the heat)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons steak sauce
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons dried thyme
2 (12-oz) bottles of beer (preferably a brown or a dark ale, not a light colored beer)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Accompaniment: Rice (my choice) or egg noodles
In a heavy oven proof pot or dutch oven, brown onions in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Add in garlic and jalapenos and continue to saute, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a large bowl, combine flower, salt, and pepper. Toss beef with flour mixture until coated. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef in batches, adding completed browned beef to onion mixture in dutch oven. Add more oil to beef skillet as necessary.
Add in Worcestershire, soy sauce, steak sauce, thyme, bay leaves and beer to dutch oven. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot (I like to add a sheet of parchment paper to the top of the pot before I place the lid back on, and braise in the middle of the oven. After about an hour, stir in brown sugar, potatoes and carrots, and continue to braise for another hour until meat is tender, about 2 hours total braising time.
Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice with a nice tall glass of beer.