Classic Cooking Quarterly: Guinness Beef Stew

This obviously has nothing to do with video games, but every time I post a pic cooking Guinness beef stew, people ask for the recipe.  I have never found a recipe online that I thought was particularly good, so here’s mine.  I apologize for not front-loading this recipe with four or five paragraphs of my life story, or how my grandparents came to America, or the first time I ate Guinness beef stew like every recipe site on the internet.  I’ve also never tried to write a recipe before, so this is probably going to be overly-wordy.

Just a couple of notes about the recipe.  First, the only liquid that you should be putting in this stew is stout beer.  Some recipes call for you to use some beef broth because otherwise the stew tastes “too much like Guinness”, which is a pretty stupid comment.  Second, whenever you buy dried herbs, try to buy them from the bulk section of your grocery store.  Pre-packaged dried herbs are a huge rip-off.  Fresh herbs from the store are kind of a rip-off too, so grow your own.  Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow herbs on your patio in pots.

This is a dish that I generally make on Sunday, as it’s enough work that it’s not practical to make on a weeknight after work.  While it is laborious, it makes enough food so that you’ll have some leftovers for the week.  Lastly, this stew is traditionally served over “champ potatoes”, which is an Irish version of mashed potatoes that has green onions in it.  This is why the stew itself does not contain potatoes.  I am not going to include champ potatoes in this recipe, because you can find that online.  You can also just serve it over standard mashed potatoes, or you can skip it and just put potatoes in the stew, if you prefer.

Plan for this to take about 4 hours to make, start to finish.  I like to start cooking this at noon.


Meat & Veg
– 2 pounds of roasting beef, cut into 1-inch cubes.  This can be chuck roast (preferred), London broil, tri-tip, etc.  Something marbled.  Whatever is on sale.
– 1 large yellow onion
– 1 pound of carrots (one bunch)
– 1/2 pound of parsnips or 1 large parsnip (if you can’t get parnips, just get more carrots, or get some golden beets, or whatever you like.)
– 3-4 cloves of garlic

– Thyme.  Either 2 fresh sprigs, or 1/2 tsp dried
– Rosemary.  1/4 teaspoon dried, plus either another 1/4 teaspoon dried, or 2 sprigs of fresh.
– Sage.  1/4 teaspoon dried.
– 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

– 1 14.9 oz can of Guinness, or 1 22oz bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, or around 15 oz of whatever stout/porter you prefer.
– Other beer, to drink during the cooking process.

– 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
– 1 stick of butter

You ideally need a dutch oven that you can put in your oven.  If you don’t have one though, you can still make this recipe using any 6-8 quart pot.  You also need a large-ish frying pan or skillet, and another large pan or pot.

Phase 1

First, we’re going to dredge the beef.  Mix the flour, 1/4 tsp of dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of sage, and 1/2 tsp of black pepper in a small bowl.  Unless you bought the beef already cut up, lay it out on the cutting board and cut it up into roughly 1-inch cubes.  In either a large bowl or a gallon-sized ziplok bag, add the cubed beef and the seasoned flour mixture.  I like to user a ziplok bag and do it shake-n-bake style.  Either way, thoroughly mix the beef and the flour mix so that all of the pieces are coated in flour.

Dice the large yellow onion into 1/2-inch pieces or so.  Don’t get hung up on the exact size, just chop it up so it’s still chunky.

Put your frying pan or skillet on one burner, and your dutch oven or large pot on the other.  Turn both burners on medium-low (varies by stove, but you want it hot but not so hot that it burns the butter.) If you’re using a dutch oven, pre-heat your oven to 250.  If you’re using a regular pot, you’re not going to use your oven.

Once the pan and pot are heated up, put 2 tbsp of butter in the pot, and 4 tbsp of butter in the skillet.  They should sizzle when you add them, but be careful not to burn the butter.  Add the onions to the pot, and add enough beef to the pan to create one layer (this will be about half of the beef).  The beef should be gently sizzling.  If it’s snapping and popping, your heat is too high.  You don’t want to burn the meat or the oil.  Make sure you’re regularly stirring the onions.  You want them to get browned but not burned.

Are you using a 22-oz bottle of Guinness FES?  If so, pour about 8 oz of it into a glass and drink it while cooking.  If you’re using a can, you’ll have to find something else to drink.

Turn the beef as each side browns.  Once the beef is browned on all sides, add it to the pot with the onions, and then do the same with the other half of the meat.  Roughly chop the garlic (I just chop the cloves in half), and add that to the pot, along with the thyme and the remainder of the rosemary.  Once the second half of the beef is done browning, add that to the pot, and use some of your 15-ish oz of beer to de-glaze the frying pan, stirring and scraping all of the goodness off of the bottom of the pan, and then pour it all into the pot along with the rest of the beer.  You might end up thinking that this is not enough liquid.  It is.  We’re making stew, not soup.

If you are using a dutch oven, put the lid on and put it into your oven, and set a timer for 90 minutes.  If you’re using a normal pot, put the lid on and turn the burner down to low.  Still set a timer for 90 minutes, but you’ll need to stir the stew every 10 mins or so to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pot.  Either way, go drink a beer and play some Sega Genesis until the timer goes off.

Phase 2

Now that 90 minutes have passed, you’re going to cut up your vegetables, saute them, and add them to to stew.  The reason that you wait 90 minutes to do this is that otherwise they will overcook in the stew and you’ll get what my Nonna would call a “mish mash”.  Peel the carrots and parsnips, and cut them into 1-inch pieces.  Again, don’t get hung up on the size.  Put another large pot or a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.  Once it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter (I know, this isn’t health food – have another beer and don’t worry about it.)  Add the vegetables to the pot.  The idea here is to heat them up so that when you add them to the stew, you don’t cool it down.  Stir them regularly for 10 minutes or so, then add them to the stew, stirring everything up.  Now you’re really going to think you don’t have enough liquid, but don’t worry about it.  Put the cover back on, and set a timer for 60 minutes.  More beer and Genesis.

Phase 3

Check the stew to see if it’s done.  The beef and vegetables should both be fork tender.  If they aren’t yet, keep cooking them until they are.  If it’s all done, pull it out of the oven/turn the burner off but leave it covered.  Let the stew rest while you make your champ or mashed potatoes.  Now that the stew has been sitting, taste the liquid and add more salt if needed, but be careful.  You can always add salt, but you can’t take it away.

To serve the stew, put a large scoop of champ potatoes in the middle of a plate or large bowl.  Make a crater in the middle, and pour in enough stew so that it’s overflowing like a volcano.  It’s best enjoyed with (more) stout.  By now you’ve had at least 4 beers and have just eaten a heavy meal.  Fall asleep in your favorite chair watching Sunday Night Football.