Back in October, I wrote about three families who beat the weeknight dinner crush by cooking for each other.
Instead of toiling in the kitchen every night, the women each take a turn cooking for all three families. One night each week, they whip up meals for everyone and deliver them hot to their doorsteps. The two other weeknights they sit back and wait for a delivery.
When my friends read the story, they decided to try it and recruited me to join the group. I was skeptical at first, although the women I interviewed – Kim Niemi, Jenny Anastasi and Shannon Eaglin – made it sound wonderful and easy. Now, I’m converted.
It’s been a wonderful way to share the cooking duties, make meals for appreciative adults (instead of just the finicky 2- and 6-year-old eaters at my house) and bust me out of my own dinner rut. (If you missed the story, it’s on our Web site at www.spokesman.com/tags/ dinner-club/.)
This week, I’m delivering a dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, so I wanted to find something with a bit of Irish flavor. I’ve settled on the Guinness Beef Stew from the new Cook’s Country cookbook, “Best Potluck Recipes.” Cook’s Country recipes are created by America’s Test Kitchen editors, who also publish Cook’s Illustrated.
I can hardly wait.
Here’s the recipe:
Guinness Beef Stew
Cooks Country editors say cooks should be careful to choose the mellower Guinness Draught rather than Guinness Extra Stout for this stew. “When we enhanced the beer’s complex coffee/chocolate flavors by adding bittersweet chocolate to the slow cooker, our testers raved about the beefy, stout flavor. We added the Guinness in two stages to get the best of its flavor – at the beginning for a base flavor and at the end for a fresh kick,” they wrote.
Also, be gentle when stirring in the flour or the fork-tender beef will fall apart.
4 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 11/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
11/2 cups Guinness Draught
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
11/2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker insert and repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 11/4 cups stout, sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker insert.
Add potatoes, parsnips and carrots to slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high for 6 to 7 hours).
Set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer until smooth, then stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper, and discard bay leaf. Serve.
Yield: 8 servings