Root Vegetable Irish Stew with Beef for St. Paddy’s Day!
You know the old saying: Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day! Well, I really am. Skinny McKinney was my nick name way way way back in the day. Grinny McKinney would have been more appropriate. Dad’s parents moved to Canada from Ireland in 1921. He was a first generation Irish and I am a full 7 generation Canadian on my mom’s side. There has been no Irish anything bubbling on the back burner of my stove, growing up. Probably why I have worked to learn about the food from the country my entire life. Dad’s only mention of food from his childhood – raised in the dusty Saskatchewan prairies in the dirty thirties – was how much he hated salt pork, and that it was all they ever ate. We were never, and I do mean never, allowed pork in our family home.
Yet, we certainly did eat far more than the average share of stew. Our family loved a hearty steamy stew, particularly in the fall when the abundance of root vegetables were fragrant with black dirt and piled into the root cellar at grandma’s and in paper bags in the the cold basement at our house. But, Irish stew? Never. Lamb was another meat that was never cooked in my mother’s kitchen, and the traditional Irish stew is made with lamb. Dad didn’t like that, either. Nor, will Vanja eat it, so today, we are celebrating our Irish roots with Alberta beef and embracing the idea that this is similar to the rustic stew dad’s family would circle round in the cold winter months, dipping dry crusts of bread into (as he has said that dry old bread was also all he got), on the farm.
It has been such a great journey, once again, as both daughters prepared and cooked this recipe from each of their homes, 1072 miles and 1725 kilometers apart to celebrate “the luck o’ the Irish” together! I helped Ragan (the eldest) with her photos and preparations and Aaron helped Lauren (the younger and his wife) with her photos and preparation. This is the second challenge in our Dueling Daughters Project. This is simply the purest of pleasure for me – and what an eye opener. Look at the difference in the colour of the beef, for example. Ours is red and theirs looks like pork or chicken. I even asked to ensure they did use beef, but was assured that they did.
Both gals agree upon which photos to include together for comparison; however, you will see that Ragan’s onion frying photo included the tomato paste with sage and then the wine while Lauren and Aaron’s didn’t. Makes for a nice contrast, though.
Ragan then filled the pot with the vegetables, topped by the floured and seasoned beef.
One can only imagine what is going through Aaron’s mind while bouncing the little cubes of beef in the seasoned flour. You have to know Aaron to really appreciate the possibilities, but his expression definitely offers a clue to his imaginative abilities.
Really hard for me to see this white meat as beef. They double checked the label themselves, and it tasted really good, apparently – but, I am thinking: do white cows make white beef?
Fascinating how different the appearance of each stew is prior to cooking. The meat was obviously darker that Ragan used, and she used wine. Lauren and Aaron used broth which is an alternate choice offered in the recipe. How I adore parsnips in the fall and all through the winter. I put them in a chicken pot pie once; however, and it was terrible because of them. They are delicious in this stew, though. As is the squash.
Ragan and I do not dress up when we cook. No photos, paw-lease! But, look at this sweet little bundle with her stew! Seeing this photo of Lauren just wrapped a grin right around my ears. Aaron bought the pot for her just for this recipe, (come on: one, two three – awwwwwwww!) so it is a good thing that both loved the stew as they will be making it again!
Lauren’s stew is not cooked and Ragan’s is cooked and has had a good meal for three taken from the pot already. Both look vastly different, but delicious. Amazing to think the only ingredient change was the wine.
Both gals made Irish Soda Bread to go with the stew, but the recipe was a bit of a gong show, so it will be a work in process before we post that one. Ragan’s was brown as you can see in the photos below beside the stew, and Lauren’s was white. Both needed far more baking than the recipe called for so were as gummy as a chicken gumbo in their centres. Yet, delicious. Absolutely scrumptious dunked into the stew and as dry as cardboard the following day. That’s just how Irish Soda Bread is: a phenomenal treat when fresh and left overs make a great door stop.
Again, you can see that the garnish was interpreted differently by each gal. I interpreted the garnish on Ragan’s stew by emulsifying the garlic and mincing everything. I had a vision of a chimichurri looking kind of condiment while Lauren and Aaron left the parsley leaves whole. What a powerful sparkle of life the garnish presented to this stew. Absolute brilliance. I have added lime to beefy soups or stews before which definitely elevated the tasting and eating experience considerably. This little bit of greenery was powerful in its transformation of this rustic stew.
As I have taught foods classes to middle school students for three years at the end of my teaching career, I could have 6 kitchens with an identical recipe and the product would appear vastly different from each kitchen. Usually, due to an error. I will say that my darling daughter, Lauren, and her masterful kitchen co-hort, are two very bright cookies. So, it wasn’t an error that made this dish appear as different as it has. It is simply the ingredients. The addition of wine to ours, and somehow and somewhere, they found a cow with white meat. 🙂
The gals didn’t include the garnish in their photo line up, so I have taken that on, myself. Four very simple ingredients, with salt (in the bowl with the garlic).
When the salt and garlic are mushed together with a fork, the garlic emulsifies and exudes considerable liquid. The salt brings out the powerful garlic flavour, so don’t use too much.
The lemon, rosemary and parsley were minced and combined with the garlic for the garnish. There is not so much, but definitely, enough. A little goes a long way.
Just a sprinkle….. and wowsers: the umami whammy is cast!
Lauren’s Reflection about making Canadian Irish Stew with Beef
Aaron and I were so excited to make Jamie Oliver’s wife’s favourite beef stew as well as to pair it with Irish soda bread. Mom tweaked it a bit as she took out the Jerusalem artichokes. I was most excited about the butternut squash in the stew as I LOVE butternut squash. The stew was surprisingly easy to make, especially with Aaron’s help, and didn’t require too many random ingredients.
We used our garlic olive oil for the recipe because we can never have too much garlic flavour in our meals. After the stew had been cooking for over 2 hours, our house smelled delicious! And, once we tried the stew, we could confirm as it was SOOOOOO yummy! The only thing I felt was that the vegetables, squash, carrots and parsnips were a little on the mushy side. Maybe we cooked it just a tad too long? Although, we only cooked it about 3hrs and directions stated 3-4, but Aaron didn’t seem to mind. Aaron said the butternut squash was what made the stew so yummy and unique compared to other regular stews with just onions, carrots, and potatoes. And just as the comments on Jamie’s blog page state: you must not skip the garnish. The rosemary, lemon and garlic was a HIT! The recipe states it serves four, but I think we had about a little over 6 servings and we enjoyed it for dinner another night.
Ragan’s Reflection about making Canadian Irish Stew with Beef
Will appear whenever Ragan decides to send it to me. Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Did this happen last time, too?
Happy St. Paddy’s Day to one and all! When the gals were young, I used to get shiny copper pennies in rolls from the bank and scatter them all over the house… remember, gals?
Canadian Irish Stew with Beef
Though Irish Stew is traditionally made with lamb, this made with know-your-farmer beef version with on-hand root vegetables is comfort in a bowl on a cold Winter Ides of March or St. Paddy's Day Eve.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion , peeled and chopped
- 1 handful fresh sage leaves (1 package)
- 1 kilo quality know-your-farmer beef stew meat cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 100 churns of freshly ground black pepper (depending upon your grinder)
- 1/2 cup flour , to coat beef (in brown paper lunch bag)
- 2-3 parsnips , peeled and quartered
- 4 carrots , peeled and halved
- ½ butternut squash , halved, cleaned and chopped
- 500 g small potatoes , skin on
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée paste
- ½ bottle red wine (or 350 ml more beef stock)
- 285 ml organic beef stock
For the Garnish:
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary needles
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leafed parsley leaves
- 1 large clove garlic , peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 300ºF
Put a oil and butter into a dutch oven
Add onion and sage leaves; fry for 3 or 4 minutes
Add tomato purée, wine and stock to combine
Flour meat by shaking it in a brown paper bag with flour and seasonings; add to pan with all of the vegetables (potato, parsnips, carrots, squash, parsnips, artichokes)
Season well with freshly ground black pepper; add salt
Bring to the boil, then place a lid on top and cook in preheated oven until tender (3-4 hours: if meat falls apart easily it's done)
Turn the oven to 225°F and hold until ready to eat
Prepare the Garnish:
Mince the garlic and add the salt to it on a cutting board; press with a fork to emulsify the garlic and salt
Add lemon zest and rosemary and parsley to garlic mixture; combine well
Serve the Stew:
Ladle into bowls and garnish with lemon, garlic, parsley mixture immediately (do not miss this step)
Serve with warm, crusty Irish Soda Bread