Guinness, Ireland's famous black stout, has been brewed in Dublin since 1759. It has a very special place in Irish life. In Dublin Tenement Life: An Oral History, publican John O'Dwyer recalls the importance of stout in the lives of the poorest tenement dwellers in Dublin: They had nothing. They lived for pints. Drink was the main diet. It was food... they used to call the pint the 'liquid food'.
Nowadays the 'liquid food' is used increasingly in cooking. It is a tasty addition to stews and casseroles, helping to tenderize the meat and imparting its distinctive malty flavor to any dish. This recipe makes a wonderful gusty stew which tastes even better a day or two after it is made.
2 lb lean stewing beef
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground pepper and a pinch of cayenne
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups Guinness
2 cups carrots, cut into chunks
sprig of thyme
Trim the meat of any fat or gristle, cut into cubes of 2 inches (5cm) and toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Season the flour with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne. Toss the meat in the mixture. Heat the remaining oil in a wide frying pan over a high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, crushed garlic and tomato puree to the pan, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a casserole, and pour some of the Guinness into the frying pan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices on the pan. Pour onto the meat with the remaining Guinness; add the carrots and the thyme. Stir, taste, and add a little more salt if necessary. Cover with the lid of the casserole and simmer very gently until the meat is tender - 2 to 3 hours. The stew may be cooked on top of the stove or in a low oven at 300 degrees F. Taste and correct the seasoning. Scatter with lots of chopped parsley.