We have been ordering steak from Big Name Mail Order Meat Company for several years. Jim and I will grill some little filets on weekends for our We Have Kids Now at-home date nights. They have a sale a couple times a year and I stock up.
The last couple of batches we have gotten have not been up to their usual standards. Our favorite little 4 ounce bacon-wrapped filets have been truly awful. Like, I would send this back in a restaurant awful. The beef is livery tasting and the bacon seems almost rancid. I’m sorry Big Name Meat – we have enjoyed a long and delicious relationship, but I am afraid we need to move on.
It’s not us, it’s you.
I am not the kind of girl who can just pitch a bunch of filet mignon because it doesn’t taste great when it’s grilled. No. So I checked my cookbooks and cruised the internets until I decided that Irish Beef Stew sounded like just the ticket. A nice long braise in the oven with some strong Guinness ought to take care of it.
I read enough recipes to get the basic idea, and headed to the liquor store, where I was rudely awakened to the fact that beer is kind of expensive. I bought some cheap-ass inexpensive red wine for my fancy pants Beef Burgundy (more on that later) and the beer was twice as much.
I chickened out on the Guinness. I don’t like beer and I thought it might be too strong – maybe even bitter. So I got Heineken instead.
I defrosted the steaks, removed and discarded the bacon*, and cut the meat into 1 ½ inch cubes. I ended up with about 5 pounds of meat.
I roughly followed this recipe from Martha Stewart. Except I used Heineken, changed the amounts of the liquids, and puréed the onions**.
Irish Beef and Stout Stew – Sort of
5 pounds beef, cut into cubes
1/3 cup flour
18 ounces tomato paste
2 medium white onions, diced
2-ish tablespoons garlic paste
3 32-ounce boxes beef broth (use two, reserve one)
- 2 bottles Heineken
- Salt and pepper
- Red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
- Handful baby carrots
Get two really deep disposable tin foil roasters – I think mine were 9 x 11 x 4 inches deep. Put half the meat into each roaster. Wisk the remaining ingredients together thoroughly, except the potatoes, carrots, and one box of beef broth. Pour half of the mixture into each casserole dish. Stir to combine, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 1.5 hours. (I placed my roasting pans on cookie sheets to help me lift them in and out of the oven) Uncover, stir, and add the carrots and potatoes. Bake uncovered an additional 1.5-ish hours or until potatoes are done. Stir occasionally. Depending on how thick you want the gravy, pour in the reserved beef broth until you get the desired consistency.
You could easily cut the ingredients in half and make a smaller batch, but I am all about leftovers. We ate dinner and put 8 quarts in the freezer. My picky eater reviewer said “I LOVE this and I want you to make it like this EVERY TIME!” I am taking that as two thumbs up.
I think next time I will be brave and put a stronger beer in it, and maybe a smidge more flour to make it thicker. Other than that it turned out great. Plus it was EASY, since it did not call for browning the meat first. Just chuck everything in the oven for 3 hours and walk away. That’s my kind of cooking.
*I really want to describe this bacon as flaccid. flaccid…flaccid…FLACCID! It’s just funny.
** I have to purée onions because my husband will file for divorce if he sees an actual piece of onion in anything. He has Issues. It’s my mother-in-laws fault.