What could ever make a slow cooked beef stew taste any better than it already does? Deliciously rich, warm, and hearty, this winter staple makes countless cameos in my farm kid vignetted memories of my mother’s kitchen. Example: Winter nights watching Chuck Norris battle Dallas crime in Walker: Texas Ranger on the black and white kitchen TV over a steamy bowl of beef and potatoes with a hunk of french loaf slathered in buttah… *drooling on keyboard*
Those were my Saturday nights for many years – passing the time watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman until Chuck would break onto the scene and start kicking some serious Texan booty. I was glued to his ninja-cowboy moves, taking down entire Mexican drug rings with a single roundhouse kick of doom.
Fact: There used to be a street named after Chuck Norris, but it was changed because nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives.
With bearded Chuck in play, how could those Sunday night stews get any better? I’ll tell you how – with just a little help from our good friend, Guinness. Today we’re featuring the winning recipe from our Dutch Oven Recipe Contest – Jamie Oliver’s Beef and Ale Stew that the lovely Leslie sent over and won. And I have to say, we love braising meats in Guinness, but using it as the base liquid for a stew is simply genius. The sugars create a mouth-watering aroma and with a heavenly molasses base flavor infusing the meat and veggies with a richness only a stout beer could produce.
First, you’ll need your dutch oven along with your veggies and stewing beef. You can usually get the beef already cut up into one-inch cubes to make things easier.
The next items are a bottle of Guinness (or any stout beer), a can of diced tomatoes, and dried bay leaves. Remember that the beer has to be a dark stout beer with it’s rick sugars, so you can’t just use any old variety.
First, begin heating up your dutch oven on the stove with a few tablespoons of oil (or as Jamie Oliver says, a few ‘lugs’). Then peel two carrots and roughly chop them up along with a couple stalks of celery.
Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris and Superman once fought each other on a bet. The loser had to start wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants.
Then chop up an onion and throw the chopped veggies and three bay leaves into the hot oil on the stove to sauté.
It’s time for the big stuff! Once the veggies are softened (about ten minutes), you’ll toss in your meat with a heaping tablespoon of flour.
Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris doesn’t need a Twitter. He’s already following you.
I have to make a disclaimer here. Normally in a braising or stew recipe, you would cover the meat with flour and then brown the meat in the pan to seal in the flavors and juices, and cook the veggies in the meat flavors. Jaime Oliver said that he’s done tons of testing and that this step doesn’t actually make any difference in the end flavor. So we wanted to test this theory and see if it worked. While the meat tasted good when it was finished, it wasn’t as tender at the end. I’m not sure if it was the cut of meat or if this step would have helped. Anybody have thoughts on this? To brown or not to brown?
Stir up the mixture and add the booze and tomatoes.
Chuck Norris Fact: When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up. He’s pushing the earth down.
Bring everything to a boil and then put on the lid and simmer on the stove over medium-low heat for about three hours. You can also put it in the oven to simmer, but I usually prefer the stove.
Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin. It’s descendants are known today as giraffes.
Take off the lid for the last half an hour or so of cooking. Remove the bay leaves before serving, and serve your stew with a chunk of bread and a cold brewski.
Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris has already been to Mars. That’s why there are no signs of life.
Jamie Oliver’s Beef and Ale Stew
- 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 pound diced stewing beef
- 16 ounces ale, Guinness or stout
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 medium onions
- 2 carrots
- olive oil
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
- 15 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 180ºC/350ºF. Trim the ends off your celery and roughly chop the sticks. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel the carrots, slice lengthways and roughly chop.
2. Put a dutch oven or casserole pan on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and the bay leaves into the pan with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Add your meat and flour. Pour in the booze and canned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt (less if using table salt) and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and either simmer slowly on your hob or cook in an oven for 3 hours.
3. Remove the lid for the final half hour of simmering or cooking. When done, your meat should be tender and delicious. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving, and taste to see if it needs a bit more salt and pepper. You can eat your stew as it is, or you can add some lovely dumplings to it.
Final Chuck Norris Fact: There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals that Chuck Norris allows to live.
Leave your best Chuck Norris “fact” in the comments below. I’ll be giving away a $5 Starbucks card to my favorite entry at the next Recipe Sunday.