This is the final installment of this year’s Irish feast; I promise:) Thanks for indulging the Irish in me.
I adapted this beef stew recipe from my VERY old (1968) Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook to use in the classroom with my students when we were making “Irish” stew. This has been a favorite of ours ever since we got married, so I can vouch for its delicious flavor.
Irish immigrants who came to America during the Great Potato Famine began using beef as a substitute for the more difficult to find lamb or mutton to which they were accustomed. Vegetables might vary but potatoes were always in the pot. Carrots, parsnips, turnips were also great tasting additions and a way to stretch the stew pot.
OLD-TIME BEEF STEW (aka IRISH STEW)
Serves 6 - 8
2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (I usually omit this.)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice or cloves
6 carrots, peeled, pared and quartered**
4 Irish potatoes, pared and quartered (I don’t peel mine.)*
1 pound small white onions (optional)
2 cups hot water (I use beef stock or broth.)
Optional ingredients: 2 turnips, peeled and quartered, 4-6 peeled and quartered parsnips
* I usually use halved small potatoes or whole fingerling potatoes.
** Those “baby” carrots work just fine. I put them in whole.
In a Dutch oven, thoroughly brown meat in 2 Tablespoons hot shortening or oil, turning often. Add 2 cups hot water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, sliced onion, bay leaves, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika and allspice or cloves. Cover; simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove bay leaves and garlic (I don’t.). Add vegetables. Cover and cook 30-45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Crock Pot Adaptation (for the classroom and at home):
Brown the meat as directed. Place in the slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients. I sometimes add in a bottle (start with about half of a bottle then taste) of Guinness stout with the broth. I just judge the amount of liquid needed by the amount of meat and vegetables I use. Cook on HIGH 6-8 hours. I usually turn it to LOW or KEEP WARM when I get home from work and let it sit until we are ready to eat.
This is a very forgiving recipe. Some people will add in tomato paste, basil, red pepper flakes and even thyme. I don’t. Personal taste should be your determining recipe:)
If I’m in the mood, I top bowlfuls of the stew with squares of phyllo and bake until the dough is puffy and browned. If you want to know how I do that, let me know; I will be happy to send you the directions.
Serve with cornbread, cornbread muffins, Irish soda bread or Irish Brown Potato Bread. YUM!
So, until next year, this is my wish for you…
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