Deborah Hinchey sent me one of her favorite recipes from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook 1 by Hugo Arnold (with Leylie Hayes) for the chain of Avoca shops in Ireland. Department stores that have their own cafe has become a rather "quaint" idea, at least in this country (or at any rate in Michigan where I grew up), although Lord and Taylor's in NYC has a charming cafe (hint for travelers making their first trip to the city: L&T also has restrooms); and Ikea is trying to revive the practice. (If you're willing to set foot in those monstrous, chaotic spaces to begin with. Especially in New Haven, where dining options are so plentiful.) Most department stores in this country needn't bother with their own cafes, of course, when the mall itself has a "food court" to serve that need, even if those spaces are rather dismal and serve up standard fast-food fare.
I also remember some lovely lunches in a very elegant old-world setting with my mother in the 1980's at Hudson's Department Store in Detroit, Hudson's was the 100+ year old department store that was to Detroit what Macy's is to New York; the company even hosted the big Christmas parade in downtown Detroit that was telecast every Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Hudson's was bought out, merged with another company and then eliminated altogether and the original downtown store torn down. Gone was the store and gone was the parade; another link to the city's own history, and another bright spot in the year, were eliminated when we perhaps needed them most.
But, I digress....we're here to talk about stew.
The recipe Deb shared, (which is also up on our archive page "Here's Linkin' at You, Kid") is different from most beef and Guinness recipes I've come across in that you do not dredge the meat in flour before you brown it; instead, you use flour to create something of a simple roux or gravy, and that suits me fine. I've never had a positive experience coating beef in flour, when the meat itself browns so beautifully; the flour only seems to create an odd texture and mouthfeel, and if the pan isn't hot enough the flour won't form a proper crust. Four Mile River Farm sells pre-cut stew beef in 1lb packages at Fiddleheads; or try a lean but flavorful cut such as top round, eye of round, sirloin tip; or experiment with FMRF soup shanks or beef ribs.
Across the pond Guinness is not just a beverage but a food (especially in the centuries when both food and water quality were questionable at best), and if you've ever enjoyed a draught you'll understand that it is a meal in itself. If you can’t get a Guinness - or would rather drink it than cook with it - Fiddleheads has regionally-produced porters and stouts, such as Wolaver’s Stovepipe Porter. Deb has only used Guinness in this, but if you give another brew a try, won't you let us know how it came out?
BEEF AND GUINNESS STEW
(From the Avoca Cafe Cookbook written by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes.)
3 lb beef brisket, cut into 2 inch cubes; or pre-cut stew beef (see note)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 heaped teaspoon plain flour
1 pint Guinness
3 carrots peeled and sliced
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic cloved, peeled and crushed
In a heavy skillet, stewpot, dutch oven or casserole dish (Deb’s note: I use my cast iron stewpot), brown the meat in the oil on the stovetop in batches, transferring it to a plate as it is done. Add the onions to the pot and saute for 10 minutes, until they are just coloured. Lower the heat and return the meat to the pot. Add flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then stir in the Guinness along with the carrots, thyme, bayleaf and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and bring to simmering point. Cover the casserole and transfer to an oven preheated to 275 degree F. Cook for
1-1/2 hours, until meat is very tender.
/recipe-archive.htmlPrintable pdf files of the recipes on this blog can be found on our Recipe Archive Page.
Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.