Medieval Stew with Stout and Other Fine Irish Dishes

When I made this dish, I posed the question, "What makes a recipe "medieval"?  While I have read and read and not found a definitive answer, I can synthesize and make a general statement that it is the simplicity of the dish and the basic ingredients that give it the name.  It has traditional ingredients:  potatoes, carrots, onions, beef, stout...a classic Irish dish.  Also, currents seem to appear in medieval stews whereas this stew features a cousin, raisins.  Beef stew laced with stout is a dish with national identity.  In countries where there is not a wine-growing tradition, beer becomes the favored drink and is used in cooking to enhance the flavor of the foods. James Joyce once called Guinness "the wine of Ireland".

This recipe comes from Chef Frankie Sheedy, who was chef at Ballinalacken Castle, in Doolin, County Clare.  It was printed in The Irish Spirit, a compilation of recipes inspired by legendary drinks of Ireland.  It can be previewed on Google Books.

Medieval Stew with Stout

Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 pounds lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large onions, sliced (I used two.)
1/4 cup flour
4 stalks celery, thickly sliced
8 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth (I suggest adding six cups to start, adding additional if needed.)
1 cup Guinness stout
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp  tomato puree (I used tomato paste.)
Sat and freshly ground pepper
8 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Boiled potatoes for serving (I threw the potatoes into the pot!)

In a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil.  Add the meat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes, or until browned on all sides.  With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until soft but not browned.  Add the flour and stir to coat the onions.  Return the meat to the pot and add the celery, stock or broth, stout, caraway seeds, raisins, tomato puree, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is nearly tender.  Add the carrots and cook for 30-40 minutes longer, or until the meat and carrots are tender when pierced with a fork.

To serve, ladle the stew into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.  Serve with boiled potatoes and bread.  A traditional Irish Soda Bread would be a good addition.

We liked the stew but there are some changes I would make.  I would not add the full amount of broth unless it was needed.  I want to taste more of the stout.  I would also add some herbs to the mix.

Today I am participating in Cuisine Kathleen's fourth annual blog crawl so I would like to highlight some other fine Irish dishes that I have made.

Do take some time to visit Cuisine Kathleen to see what everybody is cookin' for St. Patrick's Day!  It is always a great blog crawl!


  1. I love that dish, anything with potatoes!

  2. I want to try every one of your recipes, Kate. I always use red wine in stews but can imagine what a great flavor a bit of stout would add to the mix. Colcannon is one of my favorite potato recipes. Happy St. Patrick's Day to ya'.

  3. All I'm gonna say is... YUM! I'd like some (ok, a lot) of everything please:@)

  4. It is almost dinnertime and you are teasing me with all this food...the stew looks unbelievably delicious. Colcannon is my favorite way to eat mashed potatoes any time of year.

  5. Oh my! I'm coming to dinner at your house! This all looks MOST delicious!

  6. This all looks absolutely delicious! That Guinness stew is making my mouth water. Just pass me a slice of that gorgeous soda bread to mop up the gravy and I'll be a very happy lass! And those cupcakes? May I have two, please?

    Stopping by from Kathleen's party and now following your lovely blog. Have an awesome week and a grand St. Patrick's Day!

  7. They all look good, but I especially like the shot of the stew.

  8. The stew is totally inspirational. I guess I know what's for dinner, tonight.

  9. that is a super Irish line up!! so beautiful and full of lovely flavors - fantastic post!
    Mary x

  10. From start to finish, it looks wonderful! Thanks for crawling again this year, Kate, and such a delicious entry!

  11. Beautiful table with all that yummy food on it! Glad I stopped by to see it!

  12. Seeing your photos of the Irish foods you have prepared makes me think comfort. For the Irish, the simple may have had more to do with economics, do you think?

  13. What a fabulous stew. Reminds me of French carbonade.Great Irish line-up Kate.

  14. The stew rocks! Definite soulful Irish stew.

    The other dishes look wonderful too.


  15. Gee whiz. I wish we lived closer, because I'd show up for this menu. Every recipe is mouth-watering. Love the idea of baking Irish soda bread in a skillet. Why didn't I think of that? We both posted Irish stew, this week. Yours looks lovely, with beef. Mine had lamb. If you're getting the rain and hail that we are, this is perfect weather for it.

  16. Some very interesting flavors in your stew, Kate. Looks wonderful! I forgot about Kathleen's blog crawl! :(


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