Originally published in quality newspapers the week of March 7, 2011
These last few weeks our family has spent a good deal of time going through all our stuff in an attempt to get our house ready to go on the real estate market. When my wife and I bought our two-bedroom, one-bath 1910 home it had plenty of room because it was just the two of us. We’re now a family of four and as our boys get bigger, the house seems smaller.
Fortunately, we’ve been pretty disciplined about not accumulating too much stuff. None of us are collectors. There are no porcelain figurines occupying every nook and we toss most of our children’s school papers each day, saving only a representative sampling. My respective childhood and adolescent belongings fill one small box that includes odds and ends as well as a few dozen baseball cards and few old Sports Illustrated magazines.
The one thing I do enjoy collecting is not something I can keep in the basement. Well, not unless I become some sort of sociopath. I like to collect people. Not just any people, but people who come from different places in the world.
Having a melting pot of friends has enriched my life in so many ways, my culinary life included. Back in graduate school I befriended a group of young women who shared my love of great food. They came from all over the globe – India, Korea, Turkey, Spain. For several weeks, we spent every Tuesday evening at one of their apartments cooking together. Those were great times.
Having done a bit of international traveling I’ve also picked a few friends along the way and would love to do more of that. On my bucket list is to spend a week in the French Countryside shopping the markets, and befriending the locals.
As we look ahead to St. Patrick’s Day next week, I’m reminded that I really need someone Irish to add to my collection of friends. Each year I experiment with an Irish dish like soda bread, champ, or corned beef, but I know I’m missing those hints, advice, and stories that only a true Irishman or Irishwoman could provide.
In the mean time I’ll continue to make my versions of these dishes but make no claims to their authenticity. I’m Scottish but my people arrived in the new world was 300-plus years and although the Irish and the Scots are neighbors, neither want to be lumped together with the other.
So, here’s the recipe for the faux Irish Stew I’ll be making this year. It’s delicious and a favorite of my family, but I’ll be eating it half-heartedly hoping that by next St. Patrick’s Day, I will have made an Irish friend.
Irish Beef Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 lbs beef stew meat
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 cup Guinness Stout
- 2 cup baby carrots
- 2 medium peeled, chopped (about 1 inch square) potatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. On the stove, heat a six-quart Dutch oven or oven-proof pot to high heat and add the oil. Dust the stew meat with the kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Add the meat to the pot and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the onion and crushed garlic. Cook until onions are clear.
Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Next, stir in the beef stock and. Keep stirring until the liquids begin to thicken. Add the carrots and potatoes.
Cover the oven or pot with a lid and place in oven for 90 minutes. Just before serving, add the chopped parsley.