Now, before you throw your barbecue tools at me, hear me out. I would never turn my nose up at a brat, burger, ribs, chicken or a steak the size of a garbage can lid off the grill.
When it comes to variety, though, I have to say that once you cycle through all your grilling choices, you find your self repeating yourself repeatingly redundant.
Winter food, though, is a more open playing field. You could go a month and eat nothing but variations on the casserole. I don't recommend that you do this, but if you are from Minnesota, you probably do this anyway.
One of my favorite food categories with a million variations is the stew, otherwise know as soup's brawnier brother. It is the simplest of foods, invented by cultures the world over through the centuries. Meat, vegetables, liquid, heat. Everything else is completely up to you.
A favorite in the English-speaking world is beef stew. From Dinty Moore to the Lancashire hot pot, it never fails to deliver that stick-to-the-ribs warming feeling that is one of the reasons I like winter food.
This recipe is one of my favorites. I first ate it about a year ago, and have made it several times since. It is easy and delicious. In fact, when I served it at my St. Patrick's Day extravaganza last year, it was gone before the corned beef was.
You do need a CrockPot, but if you don't already have one, pony up and get one. It is well worth it.
So, here you go (with a tip of the tweed pinch cap to Julie Norkus).
Guinness Beef Stew
- 3 tbs. olive oil
- 3 tbs. flour
- 3 lbs. beef stew meat
- 1 medium bag of baby carrots
- 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 onion, cubed
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2-3 cups of beef broth
- 1 7oz. can of tomato paste
- 16 oz. of Guinness
- 2 cups of green peas
- salt and pepper
1. Thickly dredge beef in flour and fry in olive oil until brown
2. Put ingredients into CrockPot in this order: potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, meat, Guinness, broth and tomato paste (mix together first), generous sprinkling of thyme, oregano and parsley
3. Cook on High for six hours.
4. With about an hour and a half to go, stir and add peas
5. Give yourself about forty-five minutes-hour leeway to make sure everything is done.
Oh, you might want to leave the house while this cooks...the smell of it all day will drive you mad with desire.