As those of you who have been following this blog have probably picked up, it is no longer active. The existing posts will stay up for reference, but I am no longer adding new content. Thanks for a fun two years! ~Tamara

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fail Stew

Of all the recipes I bookmarked over the weekend, I was most anxious to try the Beef and Guinness Stew. Unfortunately, when I went to the store to pick up the ingredients, I found that they only sell Guinness in six packs. I admit this makes sense because people normally drink their beer. But neither Sweetie nor I drink beer, or any other kind of alcohol, so unless I loved the recipe so much that I planned to make it 6 times in the near future (with 8 servings per batch), it didn't make sense for me. So no Guinness. Which is probably why this great potential fall staple turned into a Fail Stew.

Oh, it looked gorgeous. And the meat was deliciously tender, it smelled delicious while cooking, and the flavor was quite nice, if not particularly special. But without the Guinness, there was nothing to disguise the flavor of this thing:

A turnip. I had never eaten turnips before. It wasn't until I cut into it and smelled it that it occurred to me this vegetable is part of the mustards (or cabbage) family, very closely related to radishes. And I hate radishes. The pithy part is fine, but the skin is bitter. So when I ate this bowl last night...

...I hated half of it. The turnip half. Parsnips, carrots, beef, sauce, all good. But the turnip ruined it for me. Maybe it wouldn't have if the soup didn't take 3 hours to make. If I'm going to invest that much time into hovering, stirring, and adjusting temperatures, I'd better love every bite of that stew, doggone it.

I loved a few things about this recipe that have made me consider trying again--with potatoes instead. For one thing, it uses caraway seeds, which are my absolute favorite savory spice (it also makes rye bread the perfect accompaniment, and I love rye bread). For another, the cooking method, though tedious, resulted in the perfect falling-apart-but-still-chewy texture of meat.

I'm not sure what to do about the Guinness, though. I just substituted water in this first-go-round, but I'm sure that gave the final result less depth than it should have had. Any suggestions for substitutes?


  1. wine ads nice flavor to stews (i buy red wine at trader joes for cooking with, $3 a bottle! i finish off the bottle after, but i think you aren't a drinker. i'm fairly sure you can freeze wine in an ice cube tray and then use the cubes for a future meal, so that the bottle deosn't get wasted )
    some stores have single bottle/cans of things, look at what they've got- for cooking with a porter or stout (guiness is a stout but there are many other stouts as well) can be good, and so can some lagers (fat tire comes in cans and isn't too expensive but has some flavor. bud light has no flavor and isn't worth getting)
    generally hoppy beers like IPAs or reds aren't good for cooking with.
    i usually use a combo of alcohol (beer or wine) plus bullion. (i find using just bullion you end up with super salty food before you get enough flavor)

  2. I also hate turnips. I even tried making them into fries...they still suck. They are, in fact, the reason I quit my CSA; too many freakin turnips.

  3. I'd add red wine... or some extra beef broth. or a beef bouillon with less water.
    Sorry to hear it didnt come out according to plan.
    But i hate when you cant buy ONE beer from a 6 pack. who needs 6 beers anyway? lol


Thank you for visiting my blog! Input is greatly appreciated.