COMFORT FOOD RECIPE: A CLASSIC IRISH BEEF STEW

On St. Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish… and during the cold winter months, we’re all usually craving food that is warm, comforting, and hearty and Irish Beef Stew recipe has all of those characteristics. It really could not be easier to make and it is also very affordable so it is the perfect recipe for a St. Paddy’s Day (or any) celebration.

Note: Add the carrots and potatoes later in the process so they don’t disintegrate totally during cooking but you do want the potatoes to help thicken the stew as it cooks. For this reason, I add a few potatoes when I add the carrots and reserve the rest for the final 20 minutes of cooking time so they have some texture left.

IRISH BEEF STEW

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 -3 pounds boneless chuck, cut into 2” cubes (you can use stew meat or ask the butcher to cut into cubes for you)

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 white onion, diced small

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef broth plus a bit more, depending on how thick you like your stew

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley plus more for garnish

6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces

4-5 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" cubes 

DIRECTIONS:

Tie the parsley and the thyme together in a bundle using kitchen twine to make it easy to remove. Set aside.

Add the flour, salt, pepper to a large zip top bag. Shake to combine. Add the meat to the bag and shake to coat all of the pieces evenly.

Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and place over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the contents of the bag to the pan and brown, turning the meat frequently to cook on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring often. Once softened slightly, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Deglaze the pan using the red wine, scraping up the browned bits of flour from the pan as you go. Stir until you reach a smooth consistency. Once you do, add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, clove, thyme, and parsley.

Bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Check after 40 minutes. Stir gently and determine if you need to add more liquid. Add the carrots and a few potatoes. Cover and continue cooking.

After one hour, check again and add the remaining potatoes. You may need to add a bit more broth. Check the seasoning now and determine if you need more salt or pepper. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender.

When done, remove the cloves, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Serve over buttered wide egg noodles or with a toasted slice of crusty bread. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.

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RECIPES: EASY, CHEESY MASHED POTATO TOPPED SHEPHERD'S PIE

Shepherd's Pie is a great, inexpensive recipe when you need something comforting to feed a big crowd and it is absolutely perfect for St. Patrick's Day celebrations! Ground meat, potatoes, onions.... the ingredients are simple, the prep time is minimal and you can bake it off right before guests arrive. With the ground beef and potatoes, your picky eaters will never notice the carrots or peas hiding in the filling. I normally use ground beef for this recipe but made it once with ground lamb and it was fantastic... just not my favorite.

St Patrick's Day Shepherd's Pie topped with mashed potatoes

TRADITONAL SHEPHERD'S PIE with PARMESAN MASHED POTATO TOPPING

Makes 4-6 small ramekins or 1 medium casserole

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or ground lamb if you prefer- or a combination of both)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 small yellow onion, diced small (about 1 cup)

2 carrots, diced very small

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup frozen English peas

1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves, minced fine

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced fine

For the mashed potato topping:

2-3 large potatoes, peeled and diced small

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided n half

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Dice the potatoes. Rinse in cool water. Fill a pot with water. Add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just fork tender. Drain well. Mash the potatoes while they are hot and allow to cool slightly. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. Using a hand mixer or any method you prefer, whip the potatoes until they are fluffy. Add the egg yolk and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Mix together. Set aside.

In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil. Add the ground beef and brown it. Add the onion and carrots. Brown until they are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess fat if there is any. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cook that for about 1 minute. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits of flavor on the bottom of your pan. Add the thyme and the parsley. Cook until the wine is mostly reduced. Stir in the chicken stock. Cook 3-4 minutes more. The mixture should be quite thick and paste like. If it is not, cook and stir until most of the liquid is cooked off. Check the seasoning- you may need a bit more salt and pepper. At this point. I often put a quick dash of Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne pepper for some faint heat.

Spray your ramekin or casserole dish with non-stick spray or do what I do and brush the ramekin with a little olive oil and then dust it with some of the grated Parmesan cheese. Fill the ramekin 2/3 full with the meat mixture. Top with the potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Use a fork to pierce the top so the juice will bubble up through the potatoes. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly hot.

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