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Stove Top – Slow Cooker – Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Instructions
Most every pub you visit in Ireland will offer Guinness Beef Stew on the menu. Stewing the beef in Guinness stout beer tenderizes the beef and adds a robust, malty flavor to the stew. Guinness Beef Stew is one of those dishes where the flavor of the stew continues to improve the next day. My son-in-law, Ben Weller, who is a lover of beer and Guinness, especially loved the flavors and heartiness of this stew. We have provided instructions to make Guinness Beef Stew on the stove top, slow cooker and Instant Pot pressure cooker.
History of Irish Stew:
Stewing is an ancient method of slow cooking meats that has been used throughout the world. Traditional Irish stews (can be found documented as early as the 19th Century) also known in Gaelic as ballymaloe or stobhach gaelach. These stews were traditionally made with the cheapest and most readily-available ingredients using mutton (less tender sheep over two years of age) or lamb meat (neckbones or shanks) and root vegetables such as potatoes and onions with water. Irish stew makes more of a clear broth. Now days you will find more variety of root vegetables added such as carrots, leeks, parsnips or turnips with barley, and parsley.
The original staple for Irish stew was potatoes which was easy to obtain. If the household was lucky enough to have a little meat, then adding to a stew was the best way to stretch the meat out to feed the family. Beef was available, but only affordable to British landowners. Your typical Irish cook would use lamb meat or mutton rather than sacrifice their only dairy cow. The addition of the neck bones or shanks also provided more flavoring to the stew.
Each region of Ireland will also have their different version of stew. Southern Ireland will add barley which is an affordable and nutritious filler. Other regions may cap their stew with a crust of mashed potatoes making more of a shepherd’s pie.
It is not clear in my research when stout beer was added to the stew as a meat tenderizer, fortifier, and flavor enhancer. Perhaps it was the ingenuity of an Irish pub owner? The Irish will argue that beef and stout beer does not make a true Irish stew. Therefore, you will find most Irish pubs will offer both Irish Stew and Beef and Guinness Stew on their menus.
Irish-American immigrants started replacing lamb with beef in their stews since that was easier to find in the markets. The strong flavor of the stout beer pairs well with beef or mutton. When Guinness stout beer cooks down, in particular, it adds a nice roasted caramel and chocolately flavor to the stew.
500 BC – After the Celtic Invasion of Ireland, around 500 BC, which is also known at the Irish Iron Age, the cauldron became the dominant cooking tool to use over a fire spit. Goat meat and root vegetables were stewed together.
16th Century – Potato crops were introduced to Ireland from South America.
1874 – Food Timeline – First publication if Irish Stew recipe Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations; Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.: London, 1874 (p.331):
“Take from two or three pounds of chops from the best end of a neck of mutton, and pare away nearly all the fat, for an Irish Stew should not be greasy. If liked a portion of the breast may be cut into squares and used, but a neck of mutton is the best joint for the purpose. Take as many potatoes as amount after peeling to twice the weight of the meat. Slice them, and slice also eight large onions. Put a layer of mixed potatoes and onions at the bottom of a stewpan. Place the meat on this and season it plentifully with pepper and slightly with salt. Pack the ingredients closely, and cover the meat with another layer of potato and onion. Pour in as much water or stock as will moisten the topmost layer, cover the stewpan tightly, and let its contents simmer gently for three hours. Be careful not to remove the lid, as this will let out the flavour.”
History of Guinness Beer:
Ireland is famous for it’s black stout Guinness beer which has been brewed in Dublin since 1759. Poor Irish workers and farmers lived for their pint of stout beer and considered it part of their diet. A pint of stout was known as “liquid food”. Guinness or other stout beers have been used as part of modern Irish cooking to help tenderize meat in stews and casseroles. You will even find Guinness used in chocolate cake recipes!
Star Chefs Magazine, Beef and Guiness Stew, by Darina Allen.
Chiciago Tribune, Dueling Stews, by Judy Hevrdejs, March 14, 2012.
Ravensgard.org, A History of Irish Cuisine.
The Kitchen Project, The History of Irish Stew, Food History.
Guinness Beef Stew Recipe – Irish Beef Stew: