Thursday, March 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Guinnes Beef Stew

As a pessimist to the initial idea of Beef Stew (in a slow cooker nonetheless), I was pleasantly surprised at how scrumptious this stew turned out. I normally don’t like getting that bitter beer flavoring that sometimes comes through when you’re cooking with it. But I was very happy to say that I couldn’t taste any of the bitterness. The beef was fork-tender, the veggies were hearty (my first time trying and cooking with parsnips!), all coated in this rich broth that was complex in flavor (a slow cooker surprise!) and was just freaking delicious.  This dish also made a big nice batch, that was even better as leftover. The complexity of the flavors continued to develop, while none of the components of the dish (veggies or the meat) disintegrated. I’m now a Beef Stew convert!

4 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped about 2 cups
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups Guinness Draught
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped (yes, chocolate!)
2 bay leaves
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1-1/2 lbs baby red potatoes (about 24), scrubbed
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Pat dry the beef cubes with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Cook half of the beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker insert and repeat with an additional 2 tsp oil and the remaining beef.
Add the remaining 2 tsp oil, onions and 1/4 tsp salt to the skillet and cook until the onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, 1-1/4 cups of the beer, sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to the slow cooker insert.
Add the carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to the slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, about 9-10 hours (or cook on high for 6 to 7 hours, but I have only tried this recipe on low for 10-hrs). Set the slow cooker to high. Whisk the flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer until smooth, then stir the mixture into the slow cooker. Cook, covered, until the sauce thickens about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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