Today, right before we sat down to dinner, I told Eli that I had some very sad news. I told him that he deserved to hear it from me, rather than find out on his own…I had used an entire bottle of his new favorite beer for the stew. His face dropped and he looked at me with incredulous despair. But it has gone to a better place! Its happier! It gave its existence more meaning! The simmering whimper didn’t stop until he ladled a spoonful up to his mouth and ate it.
Magic. Pure magic. He completely forgave me when I handed him a new bottle of Vanilla Porter. By any legal means necessary, try this ale. It lends the stew a complex, mellow flavor above the whole yeasty beer thing. The chocolate tones and wonderfully smooth vanilla finish are robust enough to carry a hearty beef stew. There’s a reason we didn’t call this recipe “Beef Stew with Beer” (also known as “Man Stew”), and that is because of the crucial ingredient.
For those of you who are weak-of-will, do yourself a favor and buy 2 cases. Once you take a sip of this beer, you are not going to want to pour it anywhere else but into your mouth!
Vanilla Porter Beef Stew
Makes 4 servings
3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
2 lbs stew meat or beef chuck
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
12 oz Vanilla Porter (Breckenridge)
3 carrots, diced
4 oz of button mushrooms, diced
4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp ground chocolate (used in baking)
4 carrots, cut into large pieces
2 medium potatoes
8 oz sliced button mushrooms
1 tbsp cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water
Minced parsley or sliced scallions for garnish
In a large stew pot, cook bacon over medium heat. When most of the fat has rendered from the bacon and the pieces are crispy, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the butter, taking care not to burn it. Brown the meat in batches and set aside.
Add onions to the pot and cook until soft. Stir in garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the chopped mushrooms and carrots. Pour beer and beef stock into the pot and add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, paprika, sugar and chocolate. Add the stew meat and bacon back into the pot and simmer for about 2 hours.
Add the large pieces of carrot, potato and the sliced mushrooms to the pot and cook until tender. Remove the larger pieces that were just added and set aside. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the diced vegetables added earlier. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir while it thickens the soup. Add the large pieces of vegetables back to the pot and stir to coat them with liquid.
Garnish with parsley or scallions and serve with crusty bread or egg noodles. Enjoy with a bottle of Vanilla Porter.