This stew is a modern take on the classic Dublin Guinness Stew with a few surprise ingredients to give it a punch.
1 Litre of Guinness (Draught or Stout) at room temperature
1.5 to 2 Kilogrammes of inexpensive stewing beef
4 Large Onions (1 kilogramme)
2 Stalks of Celery
Entire Bulb of Garlic
500 g Whole Mushrooms
4 Large Carrots (600 – 700 grammes)
100 g Oyster Sauce (About 3 Tablespoons)
3 g Crushed Dried Chillies (1 Teaspoon); (Cayenne pepper could be substituted)
Dumplings made by this recipe are delicious and light.
270 g Self raising flour;
70 g Butter;
200 ml Milk.
Stew pot with lid. Minimum capacity 7 Litres. A glass lid makes cooking more pleasurable;
Wok or heavy pan;
Knives and board for chopping;
Metal Wire Sieve;
Large bowl to fit sieve.
Place your stew pot over a low heat. Place your wok over a high heat. Oil if required.
When hot, add as much beef to the pan or wok as it will reasonable hold with room for turning and sear the beef on all sides. When done transfer to stew pot and resume with a new batch until all the beef is seared and in the stew pot.
Chop the onions medium and put them in the wok (Never clean the wok between batches.) Stir until they are softening and off-white. Transfer to stew pot.
Take your 1 Litre of Guinness and add a few cups to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the residue. The flavour remaining in the pan (Including any black coating on the bottom of the pan or wok.) is transferred into the Guinness which you then add to the stew pot. It is vital to transfer any flavourful residue from the pan or wok into the stew pot by this means. You may stop when the pan or wok is quite clean.
Alternative Method: If a wide bottom stew pot and a fast heat source (Gas or Induction) are available then feel free to sear the beef in the stew pot, avoiding the work of searing in the wok.
Any of the remaining 1 Litre of Guinness can be put into the stew pot when the wok or pan is clean. It is important that the entire 1 Litre of Guinness make its way to the stew pot as otherwise the balance of fluid in the stew won’t be right.
Place a lid on the pot and commence low heat if not done already. Now the other vegetables are to be added like this:
Celery, chopped medium;
Mushrooms, washed, whole, not chopped, stems intact. Cut the end of the stem if it is browned but don’t remove the entire stem from the mushroom.
Entire bulb of garlic, chopped. Smush it with a big flat knife and chop it.
Carrots. Cut them along their length twice to form quarters and then cut these into 3 cm long batons;
Crushed dried chillies.
Now add 50 g of Oyster Sauce. This sauce does vary from supplier, for a light sauce you could add more.
Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to full. Don’t remove the lid unnecessarily during the cooking or the stew will be dry.
It may take a while for the stew to start to simmer. When you see bubbles appearing at the top turn the heat to low. The stew should return to a very gentle simmer. Resort to a smaller ring of the cooker if the simmer is still too strong.
At the start of the cooking there may not appear to be enough fluid in the pot and the vegetable and meat ingredients may conceal the fluid level. Resist temptation to add more fluid as this will change in the first 2 hours of cooking. Leave the stew to simmer gently for 4 to 6 hours, swirling it about once an hour. You can lift the lid to stir but do so infrequently as moisture will escape. Cooking with the lid off or ajar may result in a stew that has dried out too soon.
After 4-6 hours, prepare dumplings (If desired) and take the lid off to allow the stew to finish and thicken. About this point add the remaining oyster sauce.
To make dumplings, start about 20 – 25 minutes before the stew is expected to be ready. There must be some steam in the top of the pot for the dumplings to cook and be light; this won’t work if the stew is dry.
Sift the flour into the large bowl. Cut the butter (At room temperature) into smaller pieces and put in the centre of the flour. Rub the butter into the flour. You must do this with your hands. When the butter is reasonably distributed, transfer the mixture back into the sieve and rub the mixture through the sieve with your hands. The resulting mixture will look much like flour again. Stir and return to the sieve and repeat. This procedure helps to ensure very light dumplings.
Add half the milk and stir until distributed. Add enough of the remaining milk to achieve a dense sticky batter.
Take about a tablespoon of the batter and drop neatly on top of the stew. Do not fully submerge the batter, it will cook in the steam. Repeat for the rest of the batter.
Place the lid on. It may be necessary to raise the heat a little to encourage steam, but be cautious because it would be very easy to burn the stew at this point. If in doubt just wait longer for the dumplings to cook. Wait about 10 to 12 minutes and the dumplings will have cooked. They should have expanded to many times their original size if you’ve used the recommended self-raising flour. This means they will be very light.
At this point the stew is finished and should be served on deep plates or large shallow bowls, traditionally on a bed of boiled potatoes.
Traditionally this stew, with or without dumplings is served over a bed of potatoes, if large, halved. Baby or New potatoes can also be used. The quantity is a matter of judgement. They should be cleaned and boiled in fresh water and drained. Aim to have them ready about 5 minutes before the stew is finished.
While it isn’t the opinion of the author, traditional lore has it that this stew is best the day after it is prepared. It can be reheated in the microwave with copious stirring or on the hob.