Guinness Stew with Puff Pastry

Hubby and I were watching some obscure British tv show from the 70s or 80s and one of the characters made reference to marinating beef in Guinness overnight for a steak and kidney pie. We looked at each other, put the TV show on pause, and started brainstorming a Guinness Stew. For some reason Hubby added that it needed puff pastry; so we were really talking about a beef pot pie. He was thinking of Beef Wellington. He traipsed off to the grocery store the next day to get potatoes as that was the only thing we did not have on hand. Here’s the result:

Please don’t look at the less than pristine clean stove!

First, I have beef stew meat in the house thanks to my neighbor who overbought on her meat delivery system. I did send the Hubby out to look for frozen puff pastry when he bought potatoes but since we go to the discount grocery stores there was none to be found. Hubby is concerned, as am I, that it could be considered a waste of good beer to put too much Guinness in the stew. And I needed to decide whether or not to marinade the stew meat.

  • 2 pounds stew meat, already cut into chunks; I chose not to marinade this.
  • approximately 1/2 cup flour for divided use
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fine Herbs
  • 2 large red potatoes, scrubbed with skin on
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 medium carrots; I had one large one and two medium
  • 1 garlic clove
  • about two cups beef broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Guinness stout, divided use
  • oil for the pan; we use olive oil
  • one sheet Puff Pastry; for some reason I decided to make the real thing by hand!

Chop the vegetables and mince the garlic in large bite size pieces. The exact amount of vegetables is not important in stews and soups. More can be added for large families. Dredge the stew meat in about 1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Put oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet and brown the meat. Stir this around a bit to get all or most sides. Add the vegetables and 1/2 the can of Guinness. Pour other half of beer into glass and serve to Hubby. Add the beef broth to the pot along with the Fine Herbs unless you thought in advance to mix the herbs with the flour that dredged the beef. At this time rinse the beer can and add that water to the pot. Why not? Add more broth or water to almost cover the stew mixture. Stir this and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes or so. Test the carrot for doneness. Mix the rest of the flour with a bit of cold tap water and stir into the stew. This will thicken the stew and you can use more flour for a thicker broth.

Prior to all this I made Puff Pastry using Jacques Pepin’s recipe for the real thing. This is not a rough puff. This is three cups (one pound flour) and one pound butter. The only thing else is ice water and a little salt. This is made with four turns of the dough which I may have miscounted and done five. This will give your upper arms a work out rolling this stuff out so many times. But look at the layers!

When the stew was complete and the puff pastry had rested in the refrigerator for an hour, I turned the stew out into a casserole dish. Actually Hubby did this as I sometimes have difficulty picking up heavy objects on occasion. Getting older is not just getting wiser. It also means recognizing that one does not always have the capability of one’s youth, and it is nice to have a partner.

I rolled one-third of the pastry into a rectangle. This was a bit of work so the resulting rectangle was not quite as big as I had hoped. I placed this on the stew and popped it into the oven that was heating to 425 degrees F. Thirty minutes gave the pastry a nice color and crusty outside. The part on top of the stew was not crisp and one would not expect it to be if you think about it. In hindsight, Hubby suggested baking the pastry on a sheet pan and then placing it on the stew. That would insure crispy all the way through.

It was absolutely delicious. The taste of the stout came through for a subtle difference for a beef stew.

I now have two pound of puff pastry in the freezer. It needs to be used within a few months. What to make next?

Sunday Pot Roast: so many choices

When grocery shopping I wanted to buy a brisket but the discount grocery I went to only had corned beef briskets available. So hubby and I picked out a beef roast, round, sirloin tip. I asked hubby if this was a “nice” cut of beef and he replied that any beef cut was a nice cut of beef. He’s my carnivore!

quinoa and pot roast 016Instead of freezing this nice just-over-2-pound roast we thought we would make ourselves a nice roast dinner for Sunday. One could just throw the beef in a pot with potatoes, onions, and carrots but I wanted something a little different. I have many cookbooks to get ideas from and I had a full pantry and fridge from the grocery shopping. I think I looked through at least half a dozen books and laid out a few for hubby to choose from. These choices included Beef Bourguignon from Julia Child, New England Pot Roast by Betty Crocker, and a Swedish Pot Roast from the Better Homes and Garden book. I admit I have not actually perused the beef recipes sections in my cookbooks for some time. There were some interesting ideas.

The “winner” comes from my Anheuser-Busch Cookbook: Great Food Great Beer. I am originally from the St. Louis area so have an affinity for Anheuser-Busch even though we don’t drink their beer very often. I bought this cookbook in 2008 when we took the family to tour the brewery. We settled on New England-Style Pot Roast on page 206. It’s cooked in beer! For the weekend grocery shopping we also went to the liquor store next door. While waiting for hubby to bring the car around I went looking for Sam Adams Cream Stout which is his favorite beer. We like dark beer. I found a craft beer from a local brewery that is a chocolate stout. What a great combination! I bring it to him and tell him I found “dessert beer”! The point is that although the recipe calls for Michelob Amber Bock, we use the Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout.

I have a two pound roast which is half the size of the one in the recipe but is plenty for the two of us with leftovers. Hubby and I are cooking together which is fun. I am working hard at not being the kitchen bully and telling him how to do things!

quinoa and pot roast 017Here’s what I used:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large onions, sliced.
  • 2.05 pound round roast, sirloin tip
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,  or whatever it takes to sprinkle all over the roast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock (the recipe calls for beef stock but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12-ounce bottle of beer: we used the chocolate stout
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

First slice the onions and cook in the pot in the butter. Cook these stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. The recipe called for 40 minutes but hubby thought that was too long. Meanwhile rinse and pat dry the roast and sprinkle all over with the salt and pepper. Remove the onions to a platter, add the olive oil to the pot, and brown the beef on all sides. Add the onions back into the pot, add the thyme, the broth, and the beer.

Cover pot with lid and put in oven heated at 325 degrees F. Half way through the cooking time the roast will need to be turned. Since this is a 2-pound roast it should be medium rare in about one hour. So I turn it over in 30 minutes. At one hour the internal temperature was 155 degrees. The roast is removed from the pot and hubby slices it. Now for the gravy. This is where something wasn’t quite right. The original recipe calls for 1-teaspoon of flour to thicken the liquid that is left in the pot. There’s a least two, if not three cups of liquid here. I used cornstarch and brought it to boil for more than the minute called for in the directions. Perhaps I should have removed the onions as well as the meat? The gravy did not thicken but still was very tasty.

quinoa and pot roast 027
Served with mashed potatoes and peas

It did not quite look like the photo but tasted like roast beef dinner. The meat was tender and not overcooked so that also was a success!

Now on to the week!