Chocolate Beer Stew!

The beef stew? An utterly resounding success. I don’t think I have seen my children willingly shovel in food so readily since I instituted box-dinner night. My daughter actually eschewed dessert in favor of “just one more bowl of chocolate beer stew.”

Chocolate beer you may be wondering? Since she was about 4, my daughter has referred to all food and drink that are brown in color as derivatives of chocolate.
The stew was quite lovely though, robust turnips, tangy onions, sweet peas, tender beef, mmmm…Who knew a crockpot could hold such treasure? I personally had avoided crockpot cooking for a long time; thinking it something I was above. It just seemed wrong to throw a bunch of perfectly good food into a cavernous container and let it cook without my attention. Didn’t that food need my personal touch? Didn’t it need my constant vigilance to be the most it could be? The short answer: No, it did not. The crockpot did quite fine without my fussing. I have come to an understanding with my crockpot after much apologizing for previous maligning. We have come to a good place. I choose the ingredients and prep them carefully, it simmers and stews everything to the point of beautiful yumminess. It’s a win-win situation!
If any of you out there have one of these retro-chic behemoths sitting on top of your fridge, get it down, take it for a test drive, you might be surprised…

Enough about the crockpot though, let’s move on to today. My lovely husband is making dinner tonight. on the menu some succulent New York strip steaks that our local butcher suggested, tender asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, baby new potatoes dusted with smoked paprika (my current favorite spice), and some lovely peach-ginger scones with vanilla-scented whipped cream for dessert. I know, I know, scones for dessert. They are breakfast beauties, but I just love them and we have some fresh peaches that are too ripe to just eat, but perfect for baking. The ginger is just an addition I think will be tasty, but I’ll let you know!

I found a wonderful red wine at our local vino haunt that is also on the menu tonight. It is called “Apothic,” and is a red blend heavy on the Syrah and Red Zin with a mocha finish (chocolate wine?). It was on sale for $9.99. What a bargain! I try to find wines that have unique character, but have not really been “discovered” yet. This makes them affordable and I truly believe that you can still find a tasty wine for under $12-$15. Don’t get me wrong though, when I see a Langtry Red, my mouth does water and my eyes do glaze over and I do proceed immediately to the checkout counter without passing go.

Below is my Guinness (Chocolate Beer) Beef Stew, I hope you enjoy it!

4 stalks of celery, rough chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 large turnips, peeled and diced into ½ inch chunks
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch cylinders
1 Vidalia onion, diced
6 bay leaves
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 can Guinness beer
½ lb. frozen sweet peas
½ lb. frozen or fresh cut green beans
2 ½- 3 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1 inch chunks
½ cup all purpose unbleached flour
½ cup unsalted butter

As was once said, “Into the breach we go my dear friends,” or the crockpot in our case. Basically this first step is the easiest thing you have ever done in the kitchen. Take all of your vegetables except the peas and beans and dump them in the crockpot. Next comes the herbs, spread them evenly over the pot o’ veggies. Then comes the beef; put that in the pool right on top of the herbs.
Now for the magic, chocolate beer, listen to the hiss as you pop the top. Lovely! It is important to use the cans with the widget in them. The carbonation adds something extra to the stew. Pour that molten liquid into the pool and then add the beef stock. Now you want to turn the crockpot on low and cook it slow for about 8 hours. There will be tempting aromas coming out of that little device, but let it be so that the meat can tenderize and all the flavors can marry-up.
As the eighth hour is approaching, you should whip your roux. This is the thickening agent for the stew. In a skillet, combine the butter and flour and cook over medium-high heat. You only need to cook it until the mixture is a light tan shade, about 4-5 minutes. Too much longer and the roux will take on that smoky flavor we look for in gumbo, but not stew. Take the roux and fold it into the broth in the crockpot. When it is combined, return the lid and cook the stew on low for another hour.
When it is finished, check the seasoning to see if it needs any more salt or pepper. If you are not quite ready to heat, turn the crockpot to the warm function and the stew can hold for another hour or two. This is some stick-to-your ribs stew and is great for leftovers with a nice hunk of crusty bread and a glass of your favorite big and bold red wine.

If anyone tries this recipe, could you let me know what you think? I don’t normally write anything down, but I am actively trying to start recording my recipes. Appreciate the help! Tomorrow Peach-Ginger Scones…

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