While Spring has sprung elsewhere in the country, we in Southern California have had a little taste of winter in the past two weeks. When weather that strays from the usual mild, sunny, 70 degree days, newscasters and weathermen warn us for days of impending precipitation. Usually, the storm systems travel down from Nor Cal so we can watch the progression and make preparation for “Storm Watch 2012″, like stocking up on groceries and wine and doing what errands you can to avoid driving through walls of water with people who shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery in adverse conditions.
Such a deluge pounded us on St. Patrick’s day weekend and this past weekend as well. When we’re set to have “weather” I like to be prepared with comforting, warm and satisfying meals like this Irish stew, which really isn’t Irish at all except for the substitution of Guinness Extra Stout for broth.
My hot tip for the day is substituting wine and beer for flavor in soups and stews, especially if you should be watching your sodium – and really, we all should – it’s a silent culprit in heart disease. I use wine, beer, and another beverage that might surprise you: coffee, in almost all my soup, stew, and chili recipes because they have zero sodium – even low sodium broths have more sodium than Don should be having at one meal. Wine and beer (and coffee) also impart a depth of flavor not achieved with broths.
Give it a try – I’m certain you’ll agree, and, if Spring and Easter are on your mind – bookmark this recipe for next fall/winter :-)
Beef Stew with Marrow and Guinness Extra Stout
The marrow of beef shank, caramelized onion, and Guinness Extra Stout instead of broth imparts deep flavor to this hearty, comforting stew.
1 lb. beef shank, with bone and marrow
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint Guinness Extra Stout
1 15 oz. can diced No-Salt tomatoes*
1 can tomato paste*
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup peas
2 cups mashed potatoes*
Yield: 4-6 servings
1. Heat large heavy pot over medium heat – I use my trusty Lodge cast iron Dutch Oven for stews, just as my mother did. Cook the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until browned, remove from pot and set aside.
2. Sprinkle both sides of beef shank with salt and pepper (use only pepper for low-sodium diets). Add another tablespoon of olive oil and brown the beef on both sides. Remove from pot and cut into several pieces – allows for quicker fall-apart tender results.
3. Return beef, including the bone and marrow to the pot. Add Guinness, tomatoes, onions, carrots, cinnamon, and bay leaf to pot. Cover and simmer on low for 3-4 hours until beef is to desired tenderness. Alternatively, you may transfer to a slow cooker and cook 8 hours or so on Low.
4. While stew is cooking, peel and boil the potatoes for mashed potatoes. Prepare your favorite mashed potatoes.
5. Prepare frozen peas according to package directions. Add to stew.
Preheat oven to Broil.
To serve, spoon stew into oven-proof bowls, top with mashed potatoes, drizzle with a little butter, and place under the oven broiler for a minute to brown. Watch carefully. Serve immediately.
* I buy No-Salt diced organic tomatoes and organic tomato paste from Trader Joes. For heart healthy mashed potatoes, I add only a tablespoon of butter along with low-fat milk and sour cream or Greek yogurt and a no-salt herb garlic seasoning or mashed roasted garlic.