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A Twist on an Irish Staple
Chris Chisholm, CSW
Snug Harbor Wine
During one of our recent storms, I set out to make beef stew. It had been a while since I last made it, and I realized that two things I don’t really care for in beef stew are two of the main ingredients. Usually, beef chuck is recommended (also called stew meat by most grocery stores), but I find that it never has a consistent texture. Also, cubed boiled potatoes don’t really excite me as they often taste very plain and unseasoned.
On the flip side, traditional Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious mix of ground lamb (or beef) and vegetables in gravy topped with mashed potatoes and browned under a broiler. It’s a little time consuming, however, and involves both the stove and oven, so came I up with a compromise that I call Shepherd’s Stew.
This is made like traditional beef stew, but I make mashed potatoes separately, creating a “bowl” of potatoes inside the serving bowl and ladling the stew on top. For the beef, I used boneless short rib. It’s a relatively cheap cut of meat that has great marbling and a luscious, melting texture when cooked.
For the cooking liquid, there are many options. Recipes suggest using beef broth, but, if I’m cooking meat in water anyway, aren’t I making beef broth? Any broth will do; chicken, vegetable, or beef, and water will certainly substitute. I made some mushroom broth by bringing water to a boil and, off the heat, steeping dried porcini mushrooms for an hour. You can substitute some of the liquid for beer or wine but not all of it. Be cautious about beer, however, as bitter beers will only get more bitter as they reduce.
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¼ lb. bacon, chopped
2 lbs. boneless short rib, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 shallot, minced
3 C liquid (water, broth, wine, beer)
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme or tsp of dried thyme
3 russet potatoes, peeled and roughly cubed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 T butter
1 C milk
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 C frozen peas
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- In a pot on medium low heat, cook the bacon until lightly crisp and remove with a slotted spoon.
- Turn up the heat to medium/medium-high and, working in batches, brown the meat on all sides and remove. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.
- Lower the heat to medium low, add some oil to the fat in the pot if needed, and cook the shallots until just translucent.
- Add the liquid, and scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Add the bacon, beef, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then turn to low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
- Add potatoes and garlic to a separate pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add the carrots, and add more liquid if necessary. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
- Drain the potatoes, and, if you have a ricer, rice the potatoes back into the pot. If not, put the drained potatoes back in the pot.
- Heat the milk and butter in the microwave until warm, about 1 ½ minutes. Add half of the mixture to the potatoes and combine. If you didn’t have a ricer, use a potato masher. Add more of the milk mixture to achieve a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Check the stew for seasoning and adjust.
- Add the frozen peas, cover, and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Spoon the mashed potatoes into a bowl, and ladle over the stew. Garnish with parsley.
What to drink?
A Guinness would certainly be a first choice– or your favorite stout. If you are in a wine mood, try a Chianti or Pinot Noir. Ask us for some suggestions in the shop!
Chris is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a Graduate of Boston University Wine Studies and Wine Making programs. He is also a graduate of Cook Street School of Culinary Arts in Denver, CO. He has worked as a personal chef and chef instructor.
(this column is reprinted from Snug Harbor Wine’s March 16, 2018 newsletter)
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