St. Patrick’s day looms on the horizon and I know it can’t pass without a beer article. Since this a blog mainly focused on foodies I thought, “I should try cooking with beer!” No, not my usual practice of cooking while drinking a beer, but actually using beer in the recipe for a change. So, I set about finding a suitable authentic Irish recipe that called for beer.
Pretty easy, right? Yes, if you want to use Guinness. JerseyBites is all about the Jersey, so I needed to find a New Jersey beer to stand in for the old Irish favorite. I defy you to find an Irish themed recipe that calls for beer other than Guinness! You can’t. So, it was time to experiment. I did find an authentic Irish Lamb Stew recipe and decided to substitute the Guinness for something else. My first thought was Flying Fish’s Red Fish. It’s a draft only beer and available in a local pub but not for growler fills. Time to get creative.
The next stop was a trip to my local Jonathon Ron store to have a chat with their beer manager, Chris Marvel. He had some good suggestions to this head scratcher. However, in the end, I went rogue (no pun!). I brought home a 4 pack of River Horse Hop-a-Lot-amus. Chris thought there would be enough sugar for deglazing and I just had to find out how the hops would taste with the rosemary and thyme in the recipe.
So, what is the verdict? Pretty damn good. Irish stew with a little Jersey attitude. I think that a mild stout would have imparted some sweetness taken a back seat to the rosemary and thyme but the River Horse definitely made its presence known. There was a dry spiciness that was unexpected but very pleasant. Success!
Well, not quite. The final step was pairing this concoction with a beer. Oh, no brainer. Pour another glass of Hop-a-Lot-amus and we’re golden. Not so much. I love this hop bomb of a beer and despite the fact that it is actually in the stew, it didn’t pair well. In the photo I included my bottle of Flying Fish Exit 9 Scarlet Ale (which I’m cellaring) because I think a more balanced beer would have been superior. In fact, the more malt forward the better. I should have gone with a brown ale, porter or, dare I say it, a stout.
Here’s the recipe, adapted from a recipe I found online here. I’d encourage you to get creative with the beer because this seems like a very versatile dish. Deb threw in green beans and mushrooms to the leftovers (because you know she can’t leave any recipe alone.) One caveat though. Please, for the love of St. Patrick, don’t use green beer!
3 pounds of lamb shoulder, cubed
½ cup flour
3 large russet potatoes peeled and cubed
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
6 stalks of celery cut into ½” slices
2 large yellow onions diced
4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch each of fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley
2 quarts of beef stock
12 ounces of beer
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
Season and brown the meat in some oil, then remove. Sprinkle on some flour and set aside. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pot and sauté. Add the beer to deglaze and then add the potatoes. Return the meat to the pot and add the barely. Put in enough stock to cover and add the bunched herbs. Bring the heat just to a boil and simmer on low for a couple of hours.
Finally, throw in some chopped parsley and the cornstarch dissolved in a little water to thicken.
Peter Culos is the editor of “Beer Bites,” a new monthly feature about breweries, bars and good beer in the garden state. A graphic designer by day, and a life long New Jersey resident, Peter was first introduced to the novel idea that beer could actually have flavor during several visits to the UK. He’s been riding the craft beer bus ever since. It has been called the ultimate social lubricant and Peter’s philosophy on beer is, “I’d rather split my last good beer with a friend than drink the whole thing by myself.” Besides beer he also likes history, dogs, Jeeps and painting. In the past, he has written a History and Art blog for the Weider History Group and occasionally contributes to his own blog, history-geek.com. Life is short. Drink good beer.