Beef and Beer Stew

Today's recipe, from the Wall Street Journal a few months ago, fits most of Casual Kitchen's key constraints for new recipes: it has to be relatively easy to make, it must contain relatively easy-to-find ingredients, and while it doesn't have to be laughably cheap, it should be reasonably inexpensive.

However, it's even better when the dish has an original or unusual combination of tastes. And that, in my opinion, is the key strength of this recipe with its rich and hearty combination of beef and beer--two of cooking's most glorious ingredients!
Beef and Beer Stew
(moderately modified from The Wall Street Journal)

6 strips bacon,
3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
Ground black pepper to taste

2 onions, halved and sliced
8 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 12-ounce bottles of dark beer
2 cups beef or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

Vegetable bundle:
2-3 carrots
2-3 celery stalks
6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves

1) Fry bacon in a non-stick pan on medium heat until lightly browned. While bacon is cooking, season beef with black pepper (you can prep the veggies here also to save time). Set bacon aside. Increase heat to high, add the beef to the pan, and brown beef on all sides. Set beef aside.

2) Transfer any remaining fat and cooking liquid from the non-stick pan into a large pot. Turn heat down to medium, add onions and cook until they are limp and browned. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring regularly and scraping the pan bottom to prevent sticking. Then add the meat and flour and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3) Add the vinegar, brown sugar, beef (or vegetable) stock, ground thyme, and all but 1/4 cup of the beer.

4) Using twine or several loops of thread, tie the carrots, celery, parsley and bay leaves into a bundle and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

5) Remove the carrot-celery bundle from the stew (but feel free to eat these veggies as a side dish!). Add the remaining 1/4 cup of beer and season to taste with additional pepper if desired. Serve into bowls and garnish with the cooked bacon, broken into pieces.

Serves 8

Three brief recipe notes:
1) Be sure to use a good quality dark beer. No cans of Bud. We used Yuengling Black and Tan in our stew and it came out ridiculously well.

2) The original recipe instructs you to discard the veggie bundle. Utter foolishness. You haven't lived until you've eaten carrots and celery soaked in a beer and beef bath for an hour and a half. These tender little guys (especially the carrots) tasted almost as good as the soup itself.

3) Once again kudos to the Wall Street Journal for another home run recipe. Who says corporate tools can't cook?

Related Posts:
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions
How to Modify a Recipe Part 3: Granola Before and After
A Can of Bud

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