Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings

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As the past few months of moving back home have winded down, I had a huge “itch” to cook some good food. And since I’m out of the warm sunny weather of Florida, and back home to the cold brisk Midwestern weather I wanted to make some kind of soup or stew. I think most everyone can agree that when it’s cold outside all you want to do is cuddle up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and devour some warm soup or stew. Also popular for me in this time of year is comfort food, I would say this dish is both! In my new place of residence, I saw an Irish Pub Cookbook, and with every page turned my mouth seemed to water more and more. I am a huge fan of Irish food, they know how to take the most simple ingredients and make something so good out of it! Mostly thanks to some stout or whiskey added in the recipe. In this particular recipe, Irish stout is the star of the meal. I think next time I will add something more savory to keep some of the sweetness at bay. Because your cooking with stout, the longer it cooks, the sweeter it will taste. The carrots also turn sweet, so this dish does become rich and sweet. I still thought it was pretty great, but in my opinion the fun with cooking is being able to change recipes and make them your own!

I made this recipe my own by adding some red wine in the pot, and I also decided last minute to brush the tops of the dumplings with an olive oil and garlic powder mix, place the oven on high broil and brown the tops of the dumplings to give it a crunchy outside with a soft inside. I am very pleased with the results! I think if I make this again, I will also add more vegetables.

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To get started, preheat your oven to 325°. If you have a cast iron french oven, I would recommend using this. You can basically cook everything in one pot and bake it as well. If not, make sure you use a flame proof dish and one with a lid for your oven. In your french oven or skillet, heat up some EVOO on medium heat and place your onions and carrots in the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until your onions are soft and translucent. While these are cooking, place your flour and salt and pepper in a plastic baggy. Take your cubed meat and place in bag, coat with the flour by shaking the flour around all over. Once the onions and carrots are cooked, set them aside on a plate with a slotted spoon to empty excess oil back in the casserole dish.

Take your beef out of the flour bag, and shake off excess flour before placing in the dish. Save the remaining flour for later use. Do this in batches and brown the beef all over. Once all of the beef is browned, add your vegetables back into the pan. Pour in the stout, wine, reserved flour, sugar, bay leaves, and thyme. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes.

While your stew is baking, when there’s about 45 minutes left to cook start making your dumplings. You can use premade dough, like Pillsbury, but I wanted everything homemade and it was really easy! Sift your flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the shortening and parsley and add your water. You may need to add more depending on the look and feel of the dough, you want a soft consistency. Roll the dough into small balls in your hand. Once they’re all rolled, add to the top of your stew when there’s 30 minutes left and bake with the lid off. Once there’s a minute or so left, take a small bowl and mix some EVOO and garlic powder, take a brush and brush the tops of the dumplings with the oil and garlic mixture. Turn the oven on broil and make sure the oven rack is close to the top coils. Keep an eye on your dumplings while baking on broil to prevent burning, take out after a minute or so once the tops are browned.

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There’s no lie that this dish is pure Irish. It’s rich flavor will fill you up and keep you warm all night! Warning: may make you full and sleepy after consumption, eat at your own risk!

What you’ll need:
For the Stew:
2 tbs EVOO
1 large onion, quartered or thinly sliced (your own preference)
8 carrots, sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 3/4 lbs chuck short ribs or center cut beef shanks, cut into cubes
2 cups of Irish stout (I used Guinness)
1 cup red wine (I used cabernet)
2 tsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper

For the Herb Dumplings:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening, cubed or in small pea sizes
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup water (add more for a soft consistency)

Garlic and olive oil topping:
2 tbs EVOO
1 tsp garlic powder

Genuinely Irish Shepherds Pie

I know that a while ago I posted about Shepherd’s Pie, that was closer to when I first started this blog. In my opinion, it was very tasty, but it tasted way too American-ized! So I started researching True Irish Shepherds Pies and came across this amazing recipe on a new favorite blog: Peace, Love and French Fries.

Once I read the recipe ingredients involved: Guinness, Red Wine, and Worcestershire Sauce.. I was sold!! RJ and I frequently like to eat at this amazing Irish Pub by our house called Culhane’s (which was also on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!) and they use Guinness in a lot of their recipes, and their food is amazing! I knew when I saw this recipe that it would not disappoint.

If you aren’t an experienced Shepherds Pie maker, you will want to give yourself about 2 hours or so to make this dish. You could also just make the meat mixture the night before so all you’d need to do is make the mashed potatoes and combine to place in the oven! It’s a good time saver, and the meat would get a chance to really absorb all of the flavors. I was too excited to eat this meal, so I decided to make time for the few hours it would take and it was worth it!

To get started, go ahead and peel and cut your potatoes into cubes. Place into a large pot and pour water just about an inch above your potatoes. Add salt. Boil for 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and place back into the pot off the heat.

While the potatoes are boiling, go ahead and prep your veggies. Dice your onion, carrots and mince your garlic. You want to try and cut evenly for a nice even saute. Set aside and take your ground lamb (or beef) and place in a dutch oven (If you don’t have one like me just use a large skillet) Cook on medium -high until the meat is almost all browned. Drain excess fat and oils. Then add your veggies and cook until they are soft. Add butter, stir until melted through. Add your flour by sprinkling one tbsp at a time mixing in between to really thicken up the meat. Deglaze your pan adding the broth, wine, and Guinness by scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add Worcestershire and spices, stir.  Simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low. Add peas and continue to simmer until softened and sauce has a thick consistency (about another 10-15 minutes).

While your meat and veggies are simmering, go ahead and make your mashed taters! Add butter, milk, shredded cheese, and my own addition (which isn’t really Irish, but I feel it has to go into every batch of mashed potatoes!) cream cheese and garlic salt! Mash with a masher or use a hand mixer until well blended. Taste to make sure it isn’t missing anything! Add parsley and chives, mix well. I ended up adding a lot more milk to my recipe than the one I followed, but I just prefer a creamier batch of mashed potatoes. Save some shredded cheese to add to the top when baking!

Once your sauce has thickened up and your taters are ready to go, take a greased oval baking dish (or square if you feel you need more room) and pour your meat mixture into the bottom. Spoon on your mashed potatoes gently, being careful not to bring the meat mixture to the top. Press your spoon down slightly to create little peaks in the dish. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Place in the oven on 350 for 20-30 minutes.

I think its very pretty when it has that burnt look to the tops of the mashed potatoes, so after 20 minutes (the meat was already boiling over and the taters were golden, cheese melted) I turned the oven up to a broil and placed the dish on the top rack. You want to keep a close eye on this once it’s on broil to prevent burning! Rotate every minute or less until it’s evenly browned on the top.

Ohh look at that beauty!! If you’re dieting, I would suggest this being your cheat night! This meal is amazingly satisfying and a little bit goes a long way! The amount of rich flavor is super gratifying after a long day and if it’s a cold day out, there’s nothing else like it to warm you up!

A big thanks to Pace, Love and French Fries for this awesome recipe! Slainte!

What you’ll need:
For the Taters:
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into equal cubed pieces
4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese (I suggest using Dubliner Cheese, straight from Ireland!!)
1/2-1 cup milk (start with 1/2 and go from there!)
3 oz cream cheese, softened
Handull of fresh parsley, chopped
Handfull of chives, chopped
Garlic salt and pepper to taste

For the meat and veggies:
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb or beef (I used lamb, trust me it tastes much better!)
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup Guinness stout (I ended up adding a splash more of Guinness)
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried sage
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
salt and pepper