Every family has a go-to recipe. In my family, depending on who’s house you’re at, you’ll expect a different go-to meal. Without fail, anytime a family member comes for an extended period, this staple meal will be served. At my parent’s place on the Sunshine Coast, my mom’s cedar plank salmon and avocado-papaya salad will be served. At my Nana’s house in Glasgow, there would always be a bread board covered in heavily buttered white toast and at my aunt and uncle’s house in Cottenham there will always be a night of Guinness stew. There’s a reason these foods are always served when there’s company around – they’re bloody good.
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I don’t know who made this Guinness stew first, but I’ll give my aunt the credit as I always associate their house with this meal. They live in England, and despite not living in close proximity, as soon as I walk in their front door it feels like I’m home. If they ever moved I’m quite sure my family would boycott that decision…
But, back to the stew. My Nana was Irish and my Papa was Scottish, so meat and potato dishes were staple dinners. This Guinness stew, paired with colcannon (a mash of potatoes, cabbage, butter and milk), is simplicity at it’s finest. Don’t let the short list of ingredients be deceiving and lead you to believe it’s not going to taste heavenly. It does. Trust me on this, because I’m not even a big red meat fan and I love this dish. There just must be something about it being slowly cooked in a pint of Guinness that makes it appealing.
So, in honour of St Patrick’s Day, here is my Irish side of the family’s favourite meal (I’m sorry if I broke some kind of family code by sharing this on the internet!):
3 lbs brisket of beef or inner round, cut into 2″ chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz (225g) onions, quartered and separated into layers
1 well heaped tbsp flour
1 pint (570ml) Guinness
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1. Preheat oven to 275F.
2. Heat oil in a large lidded casserole dish (or large oven safe pot) on med-high, and add the beef a few pieces at a time until browned, then transfer to a plate.
3. Keeping the leftover oil/juices, add the onions to the pot and cook until browned at the edges.
4. Reduce the heat, and return meat to the pot along with any juices on the plate.
5. Stir in flour until well combined.
6. Pour in the Guinness, add the thyme, bay leaf, and garlic, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
7. Place lid on top (or cover in tin foil if you don’t have a lidded dish), and place in the centre of the oven.
8. Cook for 3 hours. DO NOT LIFT THE LID UNTIL DONE.
2 lbs russet potatoes
1 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
1 lb green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1. Peel potatoes and cut into 2″ pieces.
2. Place the potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water making sure the water is 1″ above the potatoes, and bring to a boil. 3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 mins, or until tender.
4. Meanwhile, combine milk, butter, cabbage, salt and pepper in a saucepan, and cook uncovered until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
5. Once the potatoes have cooked, drain well and add to the cabbage mixture.
6. Mash the cabbage and potatoes with a masher until well combined.
7. Season with salt and pepper.