Guinness Beef Stew - pure winter comfort food! This is easy to make and cooks in the oven for hands-off dinner prep. A great meal for St. Patrick's Day or any time you're craving a rich and hearty stew on a cold night.
Brown the beef: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches to brown (it doesn't need to cook through yet), seasoning with a few pinches of salt and some pepper as it cooks. Remove from the pot and set aside on a plate.
Sauté onion, garlic and celery: Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and celery to the Dutch oven and sauté until tender and lightly colored, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven: At this point, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Reduce the beer: Stir the tomato paste and flour into the onion mix in the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Pour in the Guinness - careful, it will foam up. Add the minced sun-dried tomatoes and stir well, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5-10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and cook: Add the potatoes, carrots and beef broth to the Dutch oven. Return the meat to the stew and stir well. Add the bay leaf and thyme, if using. Securely fit the lid on top and put in the preheated oven to cook for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper as you like.
Rest: Give the stew some time to rest before serving. I prefer to let it cool almost completely, then reheating it to serve. But even a 10 minute rest will make the beef a lot more tender vs eating straight out of the oven.
Slow cooker instructions
To make this in an electric slow cooker, follow the recipe until step 4. Transfer the beer reduction, meat, vegetables and stock to a 6 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Stew meat: This stew cooks for a long time in the oven, so you really can go for cheaper stew meat. Lamb is also great in this stew, if you want to switch things up. In an ideal world, I would always buy a piece of beef chuck and cube it myself (you know… one cow in my stew vs 25). But this happens rarely with three young kids, so in this season of life I do grab the packets of readily cubed stew meat and call it a day. Taste-wise, I honestly do not notice a huge difference.
Potatoes: I’m using half waxy, half starchy/floury potatoes here. The reason for this being that the starchy potatoes will naturally thicken the stew, the waxy ones will keep their shape very well. This also creates a more interesting texture. Feel free to only use one or the other kind if you don’t keep both on hand.
Sun-dried tomatoes: This is my secret ingredient I add that is definitely not common in traditional beef stews. It doesn’t make the stew tomato-y, and since you need to chop the tomatoes almost into a paste, they are barely notable. What they do though is add some great umami to the stew. I may have watched too much Melissa Clark on NYT Food lately and this woman loves anchovies to add more savory tastes to everything. I know there are stews using anchovies for umami/saltiness (and you are absolutely free to add anchovies to this stew if you’ like to!), but I wanted a more broadly “accepted” ingredient to achieve a similar result. Enter the sun-dried tomatoes! They yield excellent results and don’t have the ick-factor many associate with anchovies.
Guinness beer: You are of course free to use any stout or dark beer for this recipe. If you absolutely despise beer, you could even use the same amount of red wine – it would definitely not make it a Guinness stew anymore, but it isincredibly good with wine.
Herbs: If you don’t keep bay or thyme on hand, please do not let this keep you from making this stew. Do the herbs add some extra depth to the stew? For sure. But you can skip the bay leaf and either use dried thyme in place of the fresh, or even substitute Italian seasoning… If there’s something I believe in, it’s in staying creative and using what you already have in the kitchen. And if this means you’ll add Italian seasoning to an Irish-inspired stew, then so be it in my books. Authentic? Barely. Still delicious? Yep. Practical? You bet.
How to make a thicker stewIf you like a thicker stew, I recommend you do one of the following:
Flouring: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the meat while you’re browning it.
Beurre manié: Knead 2 tablespoons of flour into 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the stew has finished cooking in the oven, put it on the stove and add this flour/butter mix. Gently simmer until the stew has thickened.
Cornstarch: Make a slurry from 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and a bit of cold water. Put the finished stew on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Quickly stir in the slurry and simmer until thickened.
Freezer instructionsStew is a great meal to freeze. Though please be warned: Potatoes can change their texture when frozen. If you want to avoid this, remove the potatoes and use them for immediate eating, freeze the rest of the stew without the potatoes. I have never minded the change in texture, but it’s your call!Place the cooled stew in a freezer friendly bag or container. Label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months). Then place in the freezer.Defrost in the fridge overnight, then fully reheat in a large pot on the stove. You will probably need to add extra beef broth to thin it out a little.If you froze the stew without potatoes, either cook the potatoes on the side and add them to the fully reheated stew, or add a little more broth to the stew and cook the potatoes while reheating (this will take a little longer though).