Irish Beef Stew

Cold, rainy weather and nice hot stew pretty much belong together. While the sun is shining today, it was cold, wet, and dreary yesterday when Mike asked for my Beef Stew. I grew up eating beef stew in the fall and winter. Several years ago, Mike and I spent 11 wonderful days in Ireland. Those of you who are allergic to dairy know that eating while traveling can be a real pain in the behind. I was fortunate enough to find a place that served several dishes that where dairy free. My favorite was their Murphy’s Beef Stew. Now, I’m not a big fan of beer. I don’t care for the taste and it triggers migraines, but using it in something that has been cooked doesn’t seem to bother me. Their stew was perfect and even better is I didn’t have to make it. After begrudgingly returning home, I set out to try and recreate that wonderful stew. I tried using Murphy’s beer, but it tasted bitter and a bit off to me. Mike said that the Murphy’s and Guinness that you get here do not even come close to what he had in Ireland. Maybe that was it, but all I know is that I didn’t like my version. So, I leave out the beer.
The following is my Irish Beef Stew recipe. If you want to be authentic then substitute lamb for the beef. I prefer using whole carrots, peeling and slicing them, but if you are strapped for time, the small pre-peeled “baby” carrots in a bag will work. This seems like a lot of work but it really is worth it in the end. I highly recommend that you follow the first method at least once. You end up with amazing layers of flavors, but it is still good if you follow the shorter method.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.  
3 lbs cubed beef
6-8 russet potatoes cut into chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bag frozen pearl onions
4-5 cups (2lbs) carrots sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
Flour mixture: (reserve ½ cup after you are done browning the meat)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp paprika
1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups water, divided
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Olive oil
1.    Put the finely chopped onion and peeled and sliced carrots in a bowl.
2.    Peel and cut the russet potatoes into large chunks.
3.    Turn your crockpot on low heat and cover.
4.    In a large (1gallon) zip top bag, combine and mix the 1cup flour through the cayenne pepper.
5.    Add stew meat to the back press some of the air out (not all) and close.
6.    Shake the bag around making sure all the pieces of meat are coated in the flour mixture on all sides.
7.    Heat a large skillet or pot with about 1 tbsp of olive oil at medium high.
8.    Once the skillet and oil are hot, add the meat one piece at a time until the pan is full. Do NOT pack the pan tightly with the meat. You will have to do several batches. 
9.    Reduce heat to medium and brown meat on all sides.
10.                  Remove meat to a plate/bowl
11.                  With each new batch add 1-2 tsp of olive oil.
12.                  After all the meat has been browned, put it and any juices from the plate into the crockpot.
13.                  *Pour 2 cups of water into the pan and loosen any and all bits on the bottom (medium heat).
14.                  Strain the liquid and set the strained liquid aside.
15.                  Dump the pearl onions, chopped onion, and sliced carrots into the pan. Cover and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes (medium heat).
16.                  Put the onions and carrots into the crockpot.
17.                  Heat the potatoes for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
18.                  Spread potatoes over the onions and carrots.
19.                  Pour the strained liquid back into the pan.
20.                  Add 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, tsp cayenne pepper and the tomato paste and bring to a boil.
21.                  While whisking constantly, very slowly add the reserved seasoned flour.
22.                  Once all the flour has been added, slowly whisk in 1½ cups of water.
23.                  Pour the liquid into the crockpot.
24.                  Swirl ½ cup of water in the pan and pour into crockpot.
25.                  Add 3-5 stalks of fresh thyme (depending on size) and 2 bay leaves to the crockpot.
26.                  Add water until the stew is cover.
27.                  If you start this in the morning, keep the heat on low, but if you only have about 4 hours, you can turn the heat to high.
28.                  Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
29.                  Serve with fresh crusty bread.
*Note: You can skip steps 13-23 if you are really strapped for time. Though, I highly recommend following the method above if possible.
·      Add the vegetables to the crockpot after the meat.
·      Add the thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
·      In a small bowl, whisk 2 cups of water with the tomato paste, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and tsp cayenne pepper and pour over the meat and vegetables.
·      Add water until the meat and vegetables are covered.
·      At the very end of cooking the stew, combing 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1 tbsp very cold water.
·      The stew should be boiling.
·      Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture until desired thickness is reached. It’s okay if you don’t use all of the cornstarch mixture or if you have to add more.
·      Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
(Since several people were asking for the recipe, I wanted to get this posted right away. I will add pictures after I get them uploaded)
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Trish Hudson

yummy Irish Stew, if you want a stew that is full body, with lasting flavors that tickle your taste buds long after the last bite, this is the stew for you.