Oyster Stout Irish Stew, Irish Red Ale Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Soda Bread

Originally published: 03/2012 by J Wynia

A few days ago, it was my turn to host our homebrew club for our monthly gathering to taste beer and “talk shop”. As March often brings up discussion of Irish beer and food, I figured I’d make the menu Irish-themed.

I’m not a fan of corned beef and cabbage (plus, that’s not terribly Irish in actuality anyway). But, I like stews and shepherd’s pie and both seemed like good opportunities for recipes including beer. So, the menu ended up being an Irish beef stew, shepherd’s pie and “my” Irish soda bread. All-in-all, a tasty menu that I’ve been enjoying leftovers from for a few days afterward.

Here are the recipes for the things other than the soda bread. Comments indicated either extreme politeness or that these are good recipes.

Oyster Stout Irish Stew

If you’ve never had an oyster stout, what you’re imagining is probably pretty unappetizing. Yes, it’s actually made with oysters (homebrew recipe for making your own oyster stout). However, what they add is mostly a briny, salty taste. While interesting in the stout itself, I thought it would make a really great addition to food. I was right. I used Porterhouse Brewing Co’s Oyster Stout as the oyster stout.

  • 2 lbs stew meat (lamb is actually much more traditional than beef, but, try as I may, I can’t get myself to like lamb)
  • 2T of butter
  • 2T of flour
  • 3 large potatoes, cut into whatever size you like in stew
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • A clove or 2 of garlic, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T of tomato paste
  • 2 bottles of oyster stout (or 1 bottle and equiv chicken stock)
  • Black pepper, rosemary and thyme to taste

Brown the stew meat, onions and garlic in the butter in a large Dutch oven-type pot. Sprinkle the browned ingredients with flour and stir until the flour is saturated with the fat and browns up. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few hours until it’s at the consistency you like.

Pretty simple, but stew is. Serve with Irish soda bread.

Irish Red Ale Shepherd’s Pie

Again on this dish, beef isn’t actually traditional, lamb is. However, there’s a flavor in lamb and goat that I just can’t get past. Use whichever meat you prefer and it will turn out tasty. I used Porterhouse Brewing Co’s Irish Red Ale on Saturday, but if you can’t get that, try Smithwick’s or brew your own (Midwest’s Irish red ale is their #1 selling beer kit and really easy to make). This is a nice dish because it can be made ahead of time/frozen and tastes better if you do so.

  • 2T butter
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • several cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2T of flour
  • 1+ bottles of red ale
  • 2T of tomato paste
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2c frozen peas
  • 1/2c frozen corn
  • Black pepper, rosemary, thyme to taste
  • Batch of mashed potatoes (see below)

Brown the onions and garlic in the butter, and then brown the ground beef in a Dutch oven-style pot. Sprinkle flour on top and mix until flour absorbs the fat and browns a bit. Add the rest of the ingredients except the frozen peas and frozen corn. Simmer until the carrots are tender, adding beer as necessary to keep it from drying out. Add the frozen vegetables. This is the lower level of your shepherd’s pie. Put this into a casserole dish, but make sure to leave room for the mashed potatoes or the whole thing will spill over later. Leave 1/3 to 1/2 of the height of the casserole. Cover with mashed potatoes. If you want the best results, chilling before adding the potatoes makes them easier to spread on top.

Freeze or refrigerate if you’re not making it for the “current” meal. Bake, uncovered until browned on top and hot in the center (not sure on timing because I always use a thermometer rather than timer to determine when done).  Serve with Irish soda bread. :)

Mashed Potatoes

Like many cooks, I don’t follow a recipe for mashed potatoes. But, here’s how I make them. They’re good enough that my wife, who refused to eat mashed potatoes when I married her, loves them now.

I peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks. They go into my vegetable steamer to steam until they’re tender. The steamer prevents them from getting water-logged and the flavor is much better as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, I either run them through a ricer (if I want really smooth potatoes) or mash them up with a masher (if I want chunks in them). As I mash, I put in a bunch of butter. After they’re all mashed, I switch to a wooden spoon and mix them as I pour whole milk in a splash at a time until they reach the consistency I want.

For the shepherd’s pie, you want a relatively “loose” mixture so you can spread it across the meat mixture underneath.

If there are extra, topping with fresh chives, bacon crumble, cheddar cheese and eating right there in the kitchen is something one could do. You know, if one was so inclined.



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