New England Beef and Stout Stew
Early April in Maine is a time of transition. The temps are warming up but still not what anyone would call ‘warm’. The early crocuses are pushing through what’s left of the snow, awaiting warmer days. From my home office, I can see my vegetable garden, brown, baron and leaf filled. Pretty soon transition will come in the form of warmth and longer days. It will, right? The gardens will get prepared and planted and our tastes will transition to lighter fare. Until then, I’ll count my blessings that my coffee is hot, my house is dry and there’s beef stew on the menu.
Now one thing I can say is, New Englanders are hearty. We will do what we need to regardless of the conditions. Our food reflects that. Cold weather food is made to warm not just your body but also your spirit. Today, we’ll dive into a variation of the classic New England beef stew. This one takes some of the best of the root cellar vegetables and transforms them with the boldness of stout and burgundy.
Like its counterpart, Irish Stew, this version of beef stew uses the deep, dark flavorful notes of a good stout. Guinness is the stout most think of but there are many excellent ones out there. Here in Maine, we have some that are unique and add tremendous flavor to cooking. A few local brews are: Banded Horn’s Norweald Stout, Rising Tide’s Waypoint Coffee, Funky Bow’s Midnight Special and Baxter Brewing’s Phantom Punch. Any of those will fit the bill. The key for me in this recipe is to think of the stout as one of many ingredients. It should blend and become part of the depth of flavor, part of the chorus, not the soloist.
New England Stout Stew
· 1 ½ -2lbs of stew meat* cut into 1 inch chunks
· ½ cup of flour
· 1tsp. salt
· 1tsp. pepper
· 2-3 Tbs. oil
· 6 cloves chopped garlic
· Medium yellow onion
· ¼ cup burgundy
· ¾ cup stout beer
· 1-2 cups chopped carrots
· 1-2 cups chopped rutabaga or turnip
· 1 cup of chopped parsnip
· 2 large potatoes, cubed
· 6 cups beef broth
· Sm. can of tomato paste
· 1 Tbs. hot sauce
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 Tbs. fresh thyme
· Mix the flour, salt and pepper together. Toss with beef to coat.
· Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add beef in a single layer to hot oil and brown. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel lined plate. Work in batches, adding oil as you need to.
· Add 1 Tbs oil to pan then the onion. Sautee until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and sautee one minute more. Add the stout and burgundy. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up any bits. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
· Add remaining ingredients, including the beef and stir. Turn heat down to low-medium and simmer covered for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.
· Taste for seasoning.
*Stew meat is convenient but can be very inconsistent. Buy whatever roast is on sale at the meat market or grocer and cut it yourself. It’s usually cheaper and you’ll know what cut it is!