If you celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle you are unlikely to see revelers parading around the streets in green clothing or supping green beer. And you will certainly not be served corned beef and cabbage for your celebratory meal. A generous helping of fish and chips or a lamb stew may be more traditional fare.
The Irish celebrate their Saint’s day in a much more low-key way, and across the Atlantic it is still very much a religious holiday. I am not sure how typical of the feast our beef and Guinness stew is, but it makes for a hearty, warming dish to grace the holiday table and banish the last cold days of winter. To follow up, treat yourself to a slice of our luscious pecan and coffee cake complete with an Irish twist.
Beef and Guinness Stew
Guinness gives a wonderful richness to this comforting stew. I usually make a large quantity, as it tastes even better the next day and freezes well. The creamy, scallion flecked mashed potatoes are an excellent accompaniment, together with your choice of greens as a side.
3 lbs of beef chuck cut into two-inch squares
4 oz. pancetta or thick cut bacon finely cubed
4 tbs. olive oil
½ cup all-purpose flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 tbs. tomato puree
2 cups Guinness or other dark beer
3 cups beef stock
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
4 cups carrots cut into 1-inch slices
Salt and pepper
Heat 2 tbs. oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook on low heat for about five minutes until softened, but not browned. While the onions are cooking, heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the pancetta and sauté over medium heat until lightly browned. Add pancetta to the pot with the onions. Place the seasoned flour on a large plate and toss in the beef cubes to lightly coat. Add 1 tbs. oil to the skillet skillet and brown the beef cubes in two batches, adding extra olive oil if the cubes start to stick.
Transfer beef to the pan with onions and pancetta. Turn the heat to high under the skillet and add the dark beer. Cook the mixture at a boil for three minutes, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic to the beef and onion mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, before stirring in the tomato puree and cooking on low for two more minutes.
Pour the contents of the skillet into the pot and add the beef stock, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Bring mixture to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for one hour, before stirring in the carrots and simmering for a further hour. The beef should be fork tender and the juices thickened.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with the scallion mashed potatoes and a side of greens, such as kale or spinach. Stew can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Creamy Scallion Mashed Potatoes
To make the scallion mashed potatoes, cook about six large russet or Yukon gold potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Gently heat ¾ cup of whole milk and two table spoons of butter in the potato pan and add six finely chopped scallions.
Simmer for a couple of minutes, before adding back the cooked potatoes and mashing until creamy. Season generously with salt and black pepper before serving.
Coffee and Pecan Cake with Baileys Buttercream
In a surprise twist, this coffee cake actually includes coffee in the ingredient list! Based on a traditional British favorite, I have substituted pecans in place of walnuts and added Bailey’s Liqueur to the buttercream frosting. This rich and moist cake is best served in small slices, with a fresh brewed cup of your favorite tea.
¾ cup pecan pieces
1 ½ cups superfine sugar
1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup strong brewed espresso at room temperature
5 room temperature eggs lightly beaten
1 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
Grease two 9-inch round baking pans and line the bases with parchment paper. Place the pecan pieces and two tablespoons of the sugar in the food processor with the metal blade and grind together until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Place the softened butter and remaining sugar in a large bowl and, with your mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in small increments and when well blended, stir in the espresso. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and ground pecans.
Fold the dry ingredients into the batter and divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake in the middle shelf of a 350-degree pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. When done, the cake will be springy to the touch and a deep golden brown. Due to the dense texture of the cake, the layers will not rise very much. Leave cakes in pans for 15 minutes, before turning out onto a wire baking tray to cool.
Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 ¼ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup brewed espresso at room temperature
1/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s
½ tsp salt
Pecan halves for decoration
Place the softened butter in the bowl of your electric mixer and beat until soft and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. With the machine at high speed, beat the mixture for several minutes until light and creamy. Gradually mix in the espresso and Baileys and beat for a further minute, before adding the salt. If you are refrigerating the buttercream, you will need to bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes before assembling the cake.
Place one of the cake layers on a large serving plate and spread with half of the butter cream. Add the top layer and cover with the remaining frosting. You will get best results if you spread the frosting with an offset spatula, but the cake should look quite rustic, so a knife will be a fine substitute. Decorate the top with the pecan halves. You can store the cake at room temperature for up to four hours and it will keep in the refrigerator for two days.
Alison Boyd ran a catering business in her native London before working as a private chef in Bridgehampton. She has since decamped to the North Fork.