Bolchy Barman Inspires Beef and Guinness Stew Vide.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (17 of 18)I was out for a pint with a couple of friends recently. We were in a bar, on Dublin’s Thomas Street. There were a very few customers and the only action going on was the rhythmic ticking of the clock. As usual, when one is having drink and enjoying the company of Tara Sparling and her persistently patient better half, Mark, everything was good in the world.
Side note on Sparling: I first met Tara at a blog awards ceremony a couple of years ago. She writes about all things books and literary. In my opinion, she is one of the funniest writers around. Check out her blog here

As eventually happens in the round system, my turn came to buy the drink. I went to the bar and ordered from the very youthful barman.

Me: “One Heineken and two Guinness please.” 

VYB: “You should have ordered the Guinness first.”

Me: (In bemused tone) “Why is that?”

VYB: (In a cocky, older than his years, way) “Because that’s the order I pull the drink. Because the Guinness settles while I pour the Heineken.” 

Me: (Now not impressed with his impertinent manner) “But, I deliberately ordered in that way so the last thing you would hear was “two Guinness” and you could spring into action without having to process “One Heineken” between hearing the Guinness order and knowing it was time to act.” 

The ticking of the clock seemed to get a little louder while he thought about this. His face darkened, he reached for a Guinness glass and said he would bring the order to our table.

Now, in theory, he is right. I well remember as a youth, beating my way to the bar in a crowded pub and shouting “One pint of Harp” and, when getting the attention of the hard pressed barman, adding “…and seven pints of Guinness”. My preferred order slowing down his serving the crowd of sweating punters calling for his attention. Hence, barmen, like the customer to get the Guinness bit in first. However, in a bar where the most exciting thing to happen is for an order to include a packet of salted peanuts, this preferred pint protocol is totally unnecessary.

Why do I tell you this little tale? For two reasons, Firstly, to spread the Sparling word far and wide. Secondly, as an excuse to cook something a bit different with Guinness. As if mimicking the slow settling black stuff, I will cook sous vide. My dish is a Beef and Guinness Stew. So let’s settle (pun intended) on calling it Beef and Guinness Stew Vide.

As with so many sous vide dishes, this dish is prepared in stages, separated by days. As a result, there is no all encompassing ingredients shot. So, in mock homage to my young bartending friend, I will show you the ingredients in a semblance of the order in which they should appear. We ate on a Sunday. So on Thursday evening, I poured a half litre can of Guinness into a saucepan and brought it to a gentle simmer. This to extract the alcohol.

Side note on alcohol extraction: I did this for a couple of reasons. Firstly I needed to freeze the Guinness so I could vacuum seal it with the meat. Removing the alcohol makes for a better freeze. Secondly, I began to wonder if the alcohol would have an effect on the cooking over the 48 hours that the meat would be in the bag. I have no idea if it would but, I couldn’t let it alone. 

Browned round beef cubes are an oxymoron. The linguistic fun would disappear if I used a couple of '.

Browned round beef cubes are an oxymoron. The linguistic fun would disappear if I used a couple of ‘.

On Friday evening, I removed the frozen Guinness (in the ice cube tray) and some highly concentrated beef stock from the freezer.

Everything that has to be prepared on Friday. It look pretty dull.

Everything that has to be prepared on Friday. It look pretty dull.

I seasoned the beef and vacuum sealed everything shown in the picture above. Once done, it looks like everything in the picture below.

Mmmm.... Tempting. NOT. About as inspiring as my conversation with that young barkeep.

Mmmm…. Tempting. NOT. About as inspiring as my conversation with that young barkeep.

I placed this into the water bath at 61ºC. It stayed there for 48 hours. On Sunday, I went to the supermarket and picked up the balance of the ingredients. Those included button mushrooms, onion, celery, carrots and the ‘intelligent vegetable’, celeriac.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (9 of 18)

The ‘intelligent vegetable’. Well, it looks like a brain. That’s close enough.

I cleaned the mushrooms and browned them in a bit of butter on a hot frying pan. I removed and reserved them. I should have reserved my comments to that barman too, I suppose.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (6 of 18)

The mushrooms get more flavoursome for the bit of frying. Very tasty!

I sliced the onion, celery and carrot into small pieces and placed them in a warmed, oiled casserole. I sweated these down.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (8 of 18)

As I cooked these before the celeriac, I am showing them to you second, just to annoy you.

Next, I peeled and sliced the celeriac. I then cooked it on the stovetop in 500ml of milk with a little salt and pepper.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (10 of 18)

The celeriac has a sort of a film star glow in this pic. It’s not deliberate.

On reaching the 48 hours cooking, I took the beef bag out of the water bath and poured the liquid into a saucepan.

Not the most appetising at this stage.

Not the most appetising at this stage.

I added two teaspoons of cornflour, diluted in 2 tablespoons of water.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (12 of 18)

There is plenty of tasty, beefy, Guinnessey, sauce in the pot.

When this was heated and thickened, I added the beef and mushrooms to the casserole before pouring over the warmed sauce.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (13 of 18)

Lots of delicious, separate flavours combine to make a lovely “Stew Vide”.

I added the cooked celeriac to the blender and turned it to a nice purée.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (14 of 18)

It looks pretty awful before bing puréed. It tastes delicious after.

I served the Stew Vide to a hungry hoard. I feel fully justified in calling it “Stew Vide”. It was really very delicious. The beef was tender, yet firm and full of beefy flavour. The vegetables were distinct and the whole thing was combined by a very flavoursome beef / Guinness gravy.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (16 of 18)

I poured the Guinness before I poured the stew. That barman would be proud of me.

This is a stew but on a very different level to my usual ‘Chuck everything in a pot’ variety. If you sous vide – stew vide. You won’t regret it.

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Latest comments
  • This reminds me, Conor. I still owe you a pint. Sorry about legging it out the door like that when it was my round, but I’d just remembered I’d left the, er, immersion on. Or the oven. Yes, this is a food blog, so it’s definitely the oven I left on. Anyway, sorry, and thanks so much for all the nice things you said about Mark, it’ll get him through the tough times. On another note, I am suitably impressed at your invention of the Stew Vide. Nom.

    • Your mention of the immersion gives me a great idea for preparation of sous vide. What if we could just drop the bag into the hot water tank for a couple of days? It would mean you couldn’t have a bath or shower or even wash your hands. But, I think I might be on to something.

      • What, and bring this elite method of cookery to the masses? To any old member of the Great Unwashed with a lagging jacket and a coat hanger? No sir! I say no!

        • You are right. I take it back. The mention of a lagging jacket and a coat hanger makes the visual for me. Lol.

  • If you have to take 48 hours to cook the thing, it’s just as well it’s sealed so the aromas don’t permeate the house and send the diners into an early feeding frenzy. This looks very, very good, and if I were able to drink the black stuff safely, I’d be making it, only without the vide…

    • Kate, I keep doing this to you! I must be more thoughtful in what I post. You are not making it easy on me!
      I hope all is good with you and your road trip happened when it should have.

      • Sir, ’tis not your job to manage my dietary issues, I am content that you provide great inspiration for flavours, seasoning and tips. Thanks to you, I now freeze surplus lemon juice in ice cube trays, to be added to a glass of water in the summer. I do the same with chopped fresh herbs, only more herb and less water. Works a treat.

        • Excellent. I read somewhere that herbs freeze better in a little olive oil. I have never tried it and pass it on for what it may be worth. My ice cube stock at present includes white wine, red wine, highly concentrated pork stock and likewise beef, chicken and prawn. I will be distraught if we have a breakdown.

          • I hope there is also plenty of plain ice. In case of breakdown, immediately transfer the treasures into an esky (cooler) together with your entire stock of icecubes, and top up with a bag of ice from the supermarket or petrol station. It will hold for a couple of hours. This is experience speaking…

  • Great name, I’m almost tempted to buy a one of those new-fangled machines just so I can put a stew vide on the table. As usual you’re making me hungry. Yum.

    • Thanks Linda,
      The stew vide does bring the whole affair to a new level. However, I hate the expression to a new level. This is because the elevator goes down as well as up. Up in this case.

  • I suspect I’ll be doing beef and Guinness stew – vide of sous vide, but I love the name and it looks delicious 😉

    • Thanks MD. The end result is quite different in that most of the flavours stay separate but work so well together. Very tasty.

  • Looks delicious Conor! I love the idea of slow cooking over a couple of days. The anticipation must be intense.
    Pints with Conor and Tara – now that must be a wonderful experience 🙂

    • You are welcome to join our merry band of pint drinkers Donna. Not that we have managed to do it often enough. Mark and Tara are very good company.

      • I can imagine. If only I didn’t live in the sticks!

        • You have sticks to live in Donna? You lucky thing. We only have an old Chanel coat and a bowl of petrol to live in. But we count ourselves lucky.

  • Great story about the impertinent young bartender. I’ve somewhat recently gotten into sous vide-ing and love it. I really like the ice cube marinade trick. I haven’t tried that yet, but I think I’ll give it a go. The stew looked like it was incredible and who doesn’t love a little Guinness?

    • A little Guinness? Never. Lots of Guinness!

  • Wonderful – and yet again I am tempted by the whole sous vide thing ….

    • You will just have to succumb to the SV temptations. It really adds another dimension to the cooking.

  • Oh you totally just made my tummy rumble at 10:15 in the morning! Great story and captions, as always. I just love the name, quite clever Conor.

    • Thanks Kathryn, there was not a lot of invention in it…

  • I don’t have sous vide equipment, but I’ve cooked the exact same dish in a cast iron dish in a slow oven with outstanding results. It’s the Guinness that makes the difference. Love the black stuff

    • Hi Sandra,
      I have done likewise many times. This is pretty different in the outcome. It really is a different dish, despite looking pretty much the same.
      On re-reading the sentence above, it looks like nonsense. However, you will have to take my word for it!
      Best,
      Conor

  • I love beef stew prepared with Guinness, Conor. (It also makes a great mustard, by the way.) I can only imagine how good your stew vide is. I’m still not ready to dive into the sous-vide pool yet, although you and Stefan are making it harder and harder to resist. 🙂

    • John, we need you on board. Three of my cycling buddies got SV equipment for Christmas. We are trendier than hipsters right now.
      Best,
      C

  • I’m not really a Guinness person, but I love “stew vide”!
    Although I’ve never done a side by side experiment to confirm, I read somewhere that sous-vide cooking with alcohol gives undesired results. So I always burn it off, too. When cooking at higher temperatures, above 78.4C, the boiling point of alcohol, it will evaporate and make the bag float.
    Have you tried doing a stew vide for 5 hours at 88C? That will give you a classic flaky stew texture, but more juicy. It is what I did with the beef for the next carnivore dinner.

    • Thanks for that Stefan,
      I too had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind about the alcohol so getting rid of it had a couple of benefits. Firstly, it freezes better and secondly, none of the poor chemical reactions and floating stew to contend with. It really was very tasty and I will be doing more of it, with other drink assisting in the process.
      Hope all is good. I am as busy as a busy thing at present.
      Best to Kees,
      Conor

  • I would offer the current vegetable photograph value of £1,000,000 for the celeriac but I’ve already got one ( pace Sparling). Extraordinary how different a left handed shot of Beef and Guinness stew looks..I’ll have to get a valuation:)

    • You are too late anyway Roger. My next door neighbour sent one of his staff over and gave me a cheque for €10,000,000 for my entire stock of (2) celeriac photos. He mentioned something about his employer wanting to set a world record. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness, I threw in the beef shots too. I believe he is mounting an exhibition in the Saatchi some time in the Autumn.

      I do have some pretty good carrot images if you are interested. I could let them go for a bit less.

  • I’m sure the result was delicious…it certainly looks that way.

  • What a labor of love, Conor! Beautiful!

    • Thanks Frau. It certainly is not the simplest way to make a stew. But, it is well worth the bit of effort.

  • Very unique blend of veg, love that.

    • The Italians use it a lot. I have used similar in a chicken stew recently. Delicious.

  • Let’s be honest. Chances are brazen Bofin would have most likey braised a beef and Guinness stewvide anyways.
    Nice work Conor

    • I would have but I wouldn’t have had an appropriate story. For that, I am grateful to the little scut.

  • Late to the party on this thread, but just wanted to ask whether you always brown your meat before putting in the sous vide or do you sometimes brown off post-bathing? Does it depend on the cut?

  • hi conor, thanks
    sounds good – beef in guinnes is a wonderful dish (I must have cooked from an old Theodora Fitzgibbon’s recipe)
    I tend to salt the meat well in advance (the day before at least), otherwise I do what u do. I am not a great meat eater but I am curious about the sous vide I read all the stuff from Chefsteps and Serious Eats and I can see its potential. I was geared towards the Anova (they tend to have a special Xmass price), but then I discovered Joule from Chefsteps and I am hoping they will make it available in Europe too soon… what machine do u have? ciao and thanks
    s

  • … thanks.. yes, I know Stefan/good stuff + I guess the Anova is the best kid on the block right now, here in Europe (in terms of price and performance) + I love the look of Joule but god knows if and when it will be released here in Europe. (deviation:I will be spending a couple of days in Dublin in may and I would appreciate if u could give me some addresses for food places: cafes, markets, pubs eccc…. – thanks a lot, ciao, stefano)(u can replay to my email if u wish)

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