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
6
Servings
6
Guinness Beef Stew
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
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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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Carrot soup 1

Curried Carrot Soup

Surprise, surprise, carrots did very well in our garden this year. When I planted them back in May I didn’t have high hopes. In previous years – if I even bothered to plant them – they never flourished. Some years the seeds washed away in torrential late May rainstorms.

Other years I didn’t have an explanation for why they failed to come up. I thought that I might have planted the seeds too deep so I began planting them in the shallowest rows possible, pressing them gently into the earth and then adding just a sprinkle of soil on top and pressing again.

This year there was a good breeze on the day I planted so I was afraid the seeds would blow away. Another gardener at the Brewster Community Garden stopped by and we discussed this possibility. Her best advice was to let them grow wherever they came up. Carrot sprouts have lacy foliage that is easy to recognize – if they come up.

Part of the problem is that carrot seeds are ridiculously small. They are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. My face was literally almost resting in the dirt as I placed those seeds one by one in the row I made.

The day I planted them is quite vivid in my mind. Our granddaughter Lilia Grace was in the Neonatal Unit at Tufts Medical Center. We didn’t know if she would live or what possible disabilities she would have from the stroke she suffered at birth.

Comfort 3

With every single seedling and seed I placed in the ground, I prayed for health and strength for Lilia and for a dear friend who was having health issues. I would alternate the simple breath prayers between those two people I loved. It was remarkably soothing and took away my frustration. At least I was doing something.

garden 2015

The garden continued to be a place of solace and prayer for me. I spend long hours there this summer: weeding, thinning the carrots and beets, deadheading marigolds and picking beans. The strength of the carrots all lined up in a perfect row amazed me even when they were just sprouts. They grew long and skinny in three different colors: orange, yellow and red. We’ve been eating the small ones I harvest as I thin the plants, but we are finally into true carrot season.

carrots soup 2

Now they are long and fat or short and fat, but they are wonderful in every way. Fresh picked carrots have a very powerful carrot scent and flavor. With that in mind, I decided to make a curried carrot soup to go with the turkey thighs the Kitchen Genius was smoking in the back yard. Since once again we had tons of leftover bread and a bag of apples, sausage and apple stuffing seemed like a perfect accompaniment to his turkey.

Gardening, cooking, and even washing dishes always center me. Our dinner Sunday night offered plenty of all three. We began with a cup of curried carrot soup and baked stuffed clams KG made from his Saturday clamming haul. The smoked turkey was amazing.

Turkey and stuffing are the foods of gratitude and we are full of gratitude these days. At Lilia’s most recent visit to Tufts, the head ultra-sound revealed that the pool of blood covering her brain is gone. It disappeared months before the doctor’s anticipated, so they have moved up her next big testing day that includes an MRI to the day before Thanksgiving.

We are expecting to be very thankful indeed the next day, because all signs are good. She is such a happy baby, but she is also such a champ at her physical therapy at Spaulding in Sandwich. They have pushed her with fabulous results. She now holds her head up high and is working hard and succeeding at sitting up at five months old. She is advanced in many areas, but especially her social skills.

Answer to prayer

Apparently both babies and gardens respond well to prayer.

Curried Carrot Soup
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Curried Carrot Soup
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic butter
  • 2 large shallots , finely diced
  • 6 cups carrot slices
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you don't like spicy food)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sour cream (for garnish)
  • 2 scallions (for ganish)
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place olive oil and butter in a 3 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When butter melts, add the shallots and sauté them until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots, chicken stock, curry powder, cayenne (if using) and salt. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Puree soup with a hand held immersion blender. To serve, place a dollop of sour cream on top of each bowl and use a knife to pull it into an attractive design. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and enjoy!
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