This was last night’s dinner – and I had plenty of demands for a repeat performance, on St. Patrick’s Day or not. A simmering pot of rich, meaty stew topped with dumplings (really just drop biscuits, simmered on top of the stew, allowing them to absorb some of the gravy) is about as good as it gets on a cool night in early spring. A dark stout beer, such as Guinness, makes a perfect simmering liquid for a lamb or beef-based stew; traditionally Irish stew is made with lamb or mutton (sheep over a year old), but you can make it with beef instead for a delicious (if not authentic) St. Patrick’s Day comfort feast. Although the Joy of Cooking says “this famous stew is not browned”, browning the meat first will add plenty of flavor.
If you’d like to cook this in your slow cooker, toss everything in (after browning the meat, which will add flavor), and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Drop the biscuit dough by the spoonful onto a greased baking sheet and cook at 400F for 15 minutes, or until golden, then serve them alongside the stew.
Guinness Irish Stew with Parsley Dumplings
canola or olive oil, for cooking
3 lb lamb or beef stewing meat, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups beef stock
1 can Guinness or other stout beer (or more stock)
4 thin-skinned potatoes, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2-1 cup frozen peas
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
In a large, heavy pot, brown the meat in a drizzle of oil in batches (without crowding) over medium-high heat. Transfer to a bowl and cook the onions in the same pot. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pot, add the Guinness, cover and put into a 300F oven for 2 1/2-3 hours.
Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dumpling dough: in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, parsley, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together.
Remove the pot from the oven and set on the stovetop over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Drop the biscuit batter by the large spoonful on top of the simmering stew, cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the biscuits are cooked through. If you like, put the pot under the broiler for a few minutes to allow them to brown. Serves 6.
Check out Babble’s slideshow for more St. Patrick’s Day recipes!