The sound of Elvis singing Silent Night whilst walking through the new Irish section at my local supermarket, was enough to bring Christmas past, to present. In moments I was transported back to the eighties, and who’d have thought packets of Barry’s Tea, Kimberly Biscuits, Lemon Puffs, Fig Rolls and Tayto crisps could be so evocative? Childhood memories are like distilled scents, so powerful and pure. Perhaps they return with more might this time of year?
The soft coo from my baby son brought me back to the present and I realised I’d better get a move on, the bubbling Guinness Stew might need stirring and my daydream believer pace, however relaxing needed to speed up.
Guinness Stew is a family favourite and this particular recipe embodies all that I love about stews. Beautiful barley and healthy puy lentils are an inviting backdrop to the many great flavours this recipe includes. The bright orange carrots seem to sweeten, while the new potatoes mingle with starchy saltines and the beef melts into the rich black velvet sauce. The barley and lentils, bring a volcanic thickness to the sauce, so whereas many recipes mention flour, no such shenanigans here. Another gluten-free gourmet meal to welcome winter land wanderers home. The alcohol evaporates during cooking, so this is a nourishing supper for all of the family, babies included. Be sure not to add any salt if little ones are enjoying this too and use a low salt stock cube also.
Double up the quantities for a hearty feast on evenings with unexpected guests and joyous times of warmth and happiness. May talk of Christmas past, bring you merrily present with Christmas now. The warming smell of this lovely stew, will bring an atmosphere to savour and the slow cooking means the home is surely to be warm.
Lots of love,
Onions, 2 large finely chopped
Oregano, 2 tsp
Garlic, 3 cloves bashed and finely chopped
Olive oil, 1 tbsp
Braising steak, Organic if possible, cut into chunks
Mushrooms, 10, chopped
Celery salt, 1 tsp
Puy lentils, 100g
Carrots, 3 peeled chopped into chunks
Celery, 2 sticks roughly chopped
New potatoes, 7 peeled and chopped into bite size chunks
Vegetable stock, 200ml
Flat leaf parsley, 1 small bunch roughly chopped, to serve
PRE-HEAT oven to a 150C/fan 130C/gas 3
COOK the onions, oregano and garlic with olive oil in a large casserole for 5 minutes
ADD the braising steak, mushrooms and celery salt, brown for a couple of minutes, stirring everything together well.
POUR in Guinness and stock, season well with freshly ground black pepper.
BRING to the boil, put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
ADD puy lentils, barley, carrots, potatoes and celery an 1 1/2 into cooking.
RETURN to oven for a further 1 1/2, when the meat should be tender and melt in the mouth delicious.
SERVE with colcannon or buttery mash for a heart-warming pre-Christmas supper.