Guiness stew

Guinness Beef Stew

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We love cooking for a crowd, so pretty much every weekend we invite as many of our clan over for dinner as possible. But we also cook for other crowds on a regular basis because we believe that all people deserve good food.

This month marks the one year anniversary of the Northside United Methodist Church’s Community Dinner. The dinners were the brainchild of Kate LaCroix, the former assistant to the pastor at our church. She is still the heart of what we do.

Kate started an outreach committee at our church with the intent to feed people’s bodies and souls. It has been a very successful venture. On the third Tuesday every month from 5 to 6:30 p.m., we serve dinner to anyone who walks in the door. The dinners are open to the public and most of the people who show up are not members of our church.

Even though the dinners are free, there is a basket for a free will offering. That money is used to pay for the food for the following month’s dinner as well as the other food ministries we do each month, such a serve dinner at the Champ Homes in Hyannis and make soup, sandwiches and cookies for the Salvation Army’s Miracle Kitchen. We recently added the Faith Miracle Kitchen, sponsored by the Cape Cod Council of Churches, to our repertoire once a month and have become “the chili church” for that ministry that serves 200 dinners to those in need in Hyannis three nights a week.

We are by no means the only church participating in the Faith Miracle Kitchen. Since the ministry began in April 2012, about 18 different churches have volunteered to help out, including Cape Cod Covenant Church in Brewster, Brewster Baptist Church and Faith Assembly of God in Hyannis, where the dinners are actually served.

It is truly rewarding work to feed so many people each month. In the past year we have served about 1,500 people at the various venues. Each month our committee meets to decide what we will serve each group and who will be in charge of what food.

At last month’s Community Dinner we served pancakes, sausages and fruit salad in honor of Mardi gras. Breakfast for dinner was amazingly popular with both young and old. In keeping with a holiday theme, this month we decided to serve Guinness beef stew with a nod towards St. Patrick’s Day.

Since you never want to experiment with a recipe on the day you serve it to others, I decided to cook it for us at home over the weekend. I had a package of stew beef we bought from Seawind Meadows Farm at the Orleans Winter Farmers’ Market.

Our usual beef stew recipe is a bit fussy. It’s made with lots of red wine and we roast pearl onions and baby bella mushrooms separately in the oven to layer in extra flavor. We usually serve it over mashed potatoes.

For this stew, I wanted something more old-fashioned, but also simpler to make. Simpler doesn’t have to mean less flavor, so I began with some diced bacon, because everything tastes better with bacon.

The Kitchen Genius has cooked mashed potatoes for over 100 people before, but for this stew we decided to cook the potatoes right in the stew with the carrots. We chose Yukon gold potatoes for their creamy flavor and their beautiful color.

The resulting stew was a winning recipe. Red wine creates gravy that is quite rich in flavor. Swapping in Guinness created a whole different flavor profile: earthy, deep and delicious. This is a recipe I will be making again.

If you want to try this stew without cooking it yourself, you are more than welcome to come to the Community Dinner at Northside United Methodist Church on Tuesday night. KG will be in the kitchen keeping the food rolling. Even though I won’t be there this month because I have a prior obligation that evening, you will be in wonderful hands with the amazing crew that shows up every month to serve.

Guinness Beef Stew
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Servings
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Guinness Beef Stew
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
  • 4 slices nitrite free bacon , diced
  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 2 medium sweet onions , rough chopped
  • 3 stalks celery hearts , diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 can Guinness ( 14.9 ounce)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 10 carrots , peeled and sliced
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes , peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup flour
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and cook diced bacon until crisp and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer bacon to a bowl.
  2. Pat stew beef dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Turn burner up to medium high and sear beef in two batches (you don’t want to overcrowd the beef or it won’t brown) until it is lightly browned on both sides. Remove beef and add to bowl with bacon. Turn burner back down to medium and add the onions and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until tender and caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute, until fragrant.
  3. Pour Guinness into the pot and stir well, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, beef and bacon. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about an hour and a half.
  4. Add carrots and potatoes and cook uncovered until tender, about 30 minutes. Bring to a boil and add peas. Combine cold water and flour in a gravy shaker (or whisk in a small bowl until there are no lumps). Add flour mixture to stew to thicken gravy. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook flour.
    Guiness stew 2
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burrito casserole 1

Chicken Burrito Bowls

When you are the parents of young children, there are so many lessons you have to teach: don’t touch that, look both ways when crossing the road, and love conquers all. When you are the parents of older kids, the lessons are similar: stay away from bad people, life can be dangerous, be kind to all. When you are the parents of young adults, launched and on their own way, a moment of reflection occurs about the other values you have passed on.

In addition to all the lessons that parents teach their children about being a good person, each family also has a unique passion they’d like to share with their children. It could be sports, art, travel or music. In our case, it’s cooking.

None of our three daughters expressed much interest in the cooking while they lived with us. Melissa and Julie would occasionally bake cookies, but I don’t remember Jess ever attempting any kind of culinary creativity. With that in mind, it surprised me that all three of our girls began cooking in earnest as soon as they left the nest.

Both Jessica and Melissa used to call me frequently from the grocery store asking what ingredients they needed to make a childhood favorite dish. I’d tell them the ingredients and type up a recipe so that it would be waiting in their inbox when they arrived home. The two most memorable meals that Jess cooked for us in those early days were a fabulous Asian style tuna steak and eggplant parmesan.

Melissa also became a great cook while she lived in Charleston, South Carolina. Her recipe for southwest chicken and tortilla soup is now a family favorite. It’s pretty fun when you can learn new recipes from your children.

The boys are pretty handy in the kitchen as well. I taught our son-in-law Gary how to make homemade mac and cheese, and on his own he has turned a classic recipe into a way to experiment with his favorite flavors like buffalo chicken mac and cheese.

Thommy and his girlfriend Katie have always enjoyed cooking. It isn’t unusual to find them whipping up a batch of pancakes or an inventive pasta meal with whatever they find in the fridge or pantry. While Thommy was volunteering at an organic farm in Florida the past few months, he did kitchen duty several times, whipping up breakfast or dinner for the 15 people on the farm.

Julie began cooking all of her favorite meals and then some when she got her own apartment. She’s a big fan of Pinterest, and finds all kinds of recipes on that website, including a very tasty version of a chicken burrito casserole that is a new family favorite.

A few weeks ago Julie and I went grocery shopping together. We were both doing our own thing when I bumped into her in the dairy aisle of Shaw’s. She had her phone out, so I asked if she had a grocery list on her phone. She explained that she was looking up the ingredients for a recipe she wanted to try. When she showed me the photo of “One-Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls,” I immediately wanted to try the recipe too.

I went back through the aisles to gather the necessary ingredients and Julie emailed me the recipe. I changed several different things in the recipe, based on my own experience in the kitchen. You should always brown the chicken in small batches over medium high heat before adding any vegetables such as onions. Why use garlic powder when the real thing is at hand? Adding red bell peppers was a no-brainer because they go so well with Tex-Mex food.

burrito casserole l 2
It was wonderful to see Thommy and Katie back at our dinner table.

The end result was so delicious, I couldn’t wait to make it for Thommy and Katie. In fact it was the first meal I made when he came home from Florida last Friday and I invited the whole crew over for dinner. In my experience, leftovers are rare with this meal, which is very easily doubled to feed a crowd.

Chicken Burrito Bowls
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Chicken Burrito Bowls
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts , cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided , divided
  • 1 medium onion , diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper , seeded and diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 cup Jasmine rice , uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups Pomi brand diced tomatoes in their juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomateos
  • 1 avocado , peeled and diced
  • 4 scallions , peeld and sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in large oven proof skillet and turn heat to medium high. When the oil is hot, sauté the chicken in two batches until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté the onions and bell pepper until slightly softened, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute
  2. Push vegetables to the edges of the skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the middle of the pan. Sauté the rice for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly golden. Add reserved chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, black beans, chili powder and cumin. Stir to combine. Turn burner down to low, cover skillet and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is cooked
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Evenly sprinkle cheese on top of casserole. Cover the skillet and place it in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes to melt cheese. Serve with fresh tomatoes, avocado, scallions and sour cream.
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