Recipe: Porter, Beef and Bacon Stew

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I had doubts about posting this hearty recipe today, given how the weather has massively improved recently, but apparently it will go back to cold, blustery rain soon, so you’ll be thanking me later.

Beef stew with beer in it is a simple, classic dish that every beer (and beef) lover should have under their belt, ideal for banishing the last of the colder days. I love making a meal that’s a strong, simple idea, with loads of flavour but not loads of ingredients, just the right ones. I hate seeing those once-and-never-again-used jars of unobtanium and eye of newt at the back of the cupboard, when I only bought them so half a teaspoon would go into something I’d never make again. This is a full-flavoured stew that uses good quality, everyday things to tasty effect – but using which beer?

BrewDog’s first seasonal beer of 2015, the resurrected Alice Porter, is now at 5.2% and without the leafy blackcurrant notes of Bramling X and dessert-like flavours of vanilla, but it still has a wonderfully full, sweet and nourishing body and velvety mouthfeel, sharpened by the oily lemon of Sorachi Ace. In this dish, the idea is to enrich that beef and sauce with the oaty, chocolatey notes of the porter, and get the oily lemon notes to interact with the thyme and vegetables. Of course, there are lots of beers you could use here – oatmeal stouts, brown ales, Belgian dubbels – but generally you want something that’s rich, darker, sweet without too much roast or bitterness.

 

 

Ingredients:

The below makes a portion for 1 person, so scale up as you wish:

  • 200g stewing steak
  • 1 rasher smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped to roughly 1cm sq pieces
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 a bottle of porter (in this case BrewDog Alice Porter)
  • 150ml beef stock
  • Thyme, small bunch
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • Parsley, finely chopped, to serve

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, season the beef with the salt and pepper and sear it on the outside in the pan. You don’t need to fully cook it through, just brown the outside. Depending on how much you’re cooking, you might find this easier to do in small amounts, rather than all at once. Set the beef and the juices aside once you’ve seared all of it on all sides.

2. In the same pan, stir fry the bacon for a few minutes, then add the butter, onion, carrots and garlic, softening the vegetables for about 7 or 8 minutes.

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3. Now return the beef and its juices to the pan, stir everything through, then add the thyme, porter and beef stock (but keep about 100ml or so of stock back). Make sure the liquid covers everything. Once it’s simmering, get the heat down low, cover the pan and leave to cook for about an hour and a half. If it starts to look like it’s drying out, add some of the reserved stock.

4. Once the stew has thickened and the beef is tender, taste and season if necessary. Garnish with the parsley and serve with potatoes however you like them (for me you can’t beat mustard mash) or with some crusty bread and butter. Oh, and a glass of beer.

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Beer Match:

If you have more left, Alice Porter is perfect, picking out the softer herbal elements of the dish as well as boosting the thick, beefy goodness. Alternatively, pick your favourite dark beer in the cupboard. Westmalle Dubbel, Kernel Export India Porter or an American porter like those by Anchor or Sierra Nevada are great matches for this type of dish. As ever, balancing the intensity of flavour in both beer and the food is key, but it’s also important to find other aspects they have in common – comforting sweetness and complex flavours. Enjoy!