Before we moved to Ireland, we thought corned beef and cabbage was an Irish dish. Turns out that the more traditional Irish dish is bacon and cabbage, made from a cut of pork known as bacon ham, or back bacon.
Years ago, beef was only available to the wealthy, so bacon and cabbage was the dish you’d find in Irish homes. Now beef is widely available and Irish beef is fabulous — all grass fed.
For St. Patrick’s Day we thought we’d try a dish you’ll find in many restaurants and pubs here in Ireland, Guinness Beef Stew. We serve the stew with champ, mashed potatoes Irish–style, using a recipe by acclaimed Irish chef Paul Rankin. When we made the champ for some Irish friends, one of them said they were just like her mother’s potatoes — high praise to us Yanks.
Of course a Guinness stew is the perfect dish for St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s a perfect dish for sous vide as well — all the flavors are captured in the cooking bags. The bag juices are delicious but just too thin for our tastes, so we thicken them with a beurre manie. The resulting sauce is perfect in flavor and consistency, and richer-tasting thanks to the butter.
Some Paddy’s Day trivia for you:
- St. Patrick’s Day was established as an official holiday in Ireland in 1903. It may be one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world.
- Pubs in Ireland are closed only two days a year, Christmas and Good Friday. They used to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day as well, but that changed in the 1970s.
- The shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs.
Enjoy your Paddy’s Day celebrations! Slainte!
- Preheat water bath to 160°F (71°C).
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add oil, onion, and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl, leaving enough oil in the pan to brown the beef.
- Combine 1 tablespoon of the flour, and the salt, pepper, and piment d’Espelette in a bowl large enough to hold the meat. Add the meat and stir to coat. Brown the meat on all sides, working in batches so that the pan isn’t overcrowded. Transfer the browned beef to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add the carrots and stir to combine.
- Divide the beef mixture between two large food bags. Add to each bag 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 1 cup frozen stock, and 1 cup frozen Guinness. Vacuum seal the bags. (Alternatively, you can forego freezing the liquids and use zip lock bags; seal using the water displacement method.)
- Cook for 24 hours.
- Drain the bag liquids into a bowl. In a separate small bowl, make a beurre manie by combining the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour with the softened butter. Add the beurre manie to the bag juices in small pieces, whisking after each addition, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Pour the thickened sauce over the stew and transfer to individual serving dishes, topping each with a generous scoop of champ (Irish mashed potatoes).
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover, and season with salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, pour off the water, and cover the pan to keep the potatoes warm.
- Combine milk and butter in a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chopped scallions.
- Mash the potatoes, then stir in the milk mixture until the potatoes are smooth. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with additional chopped scallions if desired.