Sometimes it’s the small, stupid things in life which can make a typical boring day more exciting. For me this day usually falls on Wednesdays when I eagerly grab the mail from our mailbox just to read the 4 or 5 grocery ad inserts.
I study those ads like a stock broker reads the Wall Street so he can buy and sell before the markets close. Although grocery shopping is just a necessity to most, it is a ‘take-no-prisoners’ type of sport to me. Yes, I am aware that this may sound strange, slightly pathetic, or a combination of both.
When you grow up so poor with nothing, learning to be frugal becomes a survival skill that never quite leaves you. Finding deals and steals is the name of the game and I love the challenge of getting the most out of every dollar I spend. This type of illness (yes, it is an illness), has many drawbacks. It can alter a person’s perception about life in a way that can limit them from enjoying an occasional splurge. And the euphoria of a deal can cause me to buy things despite the reality that I didn’t really need the items to begin with.
But I’m a recovering ‘frugal-aholic.’ Gone are the days I would come home with “just in case we need them in the future’ items. These days I limit my frugal ways to only food our family eats regularly, which brings me to today’s post.
Generally speaking, I only buy meat when it is on sale. I especially like clearance perishables. When I glance over ads, I am generally looking for deals on meat, vegetables, fruit, and coffee. On most days I don’t know what I’m going to cook for dinner. I’ll let a sale item determine what our meal will be.
With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching this Sunday this week is a great time to find deals on beef, potatoes, carrots, and Irish beer. All of these ingredients I just mentioned are perfect for making one of my favorite comfort foods: beef stew. But not just any stew, Irish Beef Stew made with Guinness Stout beer.
With bone-in Chuck roast on sale for $2.69/lb, I picked up a package knowing beef stew would be in my immediate future. I prefer the bone-in meat when making stew because after I cut the bone and fat away I throw the bone in the pot so that while it is cooking it will draw out the flavor a bone can add. For the same reason people like to use bones to make stock I like to cook soups and stews with the bones too. And it doesn’t hurt that bone-in meat is always significantly cheaper than the boneless.
Because beef stew takes a very long time to simmer on the stove-top, I usually use a pressure cooker. The moment I seal the lid, I set the kitchen timer to 20 minutes after the safety hatch pops up. When the timer goes off, I turn off the stove and start calling everyone down for dinner.
I know some people are ‘weirded’ out by pressure cookers but it is one of my most used cookware. Being able to save hours of “cook time” is such a life necessity for me. And the flavor and texture of the meat and vegetables are far superior to a slow-cooker. No mushy anything. Tender vibrant vegetables are firm enough to hold their shape and the meat is the perfect texture.
This stew is hearty. It has a nice rich broth with the subtle flavor of stout. Served with a slice of crusty rustic bread and a light salad this stew would be perfect to serve this Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day. Like I mentioned before, everything you need to make it is pretty much on sale, too. I love it when frugality, practicality, and deliciousness collide.
Have a great weekend!
PS: Because some people have emailed me about my pressure cooker, I just used this cheapo one Presto 6-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker that worked beautifully before I broke the handle when I accidentally dropped the lid. At the under $30 price point, I would highly recommend it. The one I have now is exactly the same as the one above except mine is a no-name one my sister bought at a garage sale.
Although the one I had was aluminum, Presto does offer a stainless-steel version which some of my food loving friends love. Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker at a slightly higher price point.
Lastly, I do have friends who swear by the Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, Brushed Stainless and Matte Black at just under $100.
- 3 pounds chuck roast beef, bone-in
- 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons, thyme
- 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar or brown sugar
- 12 ounce bottle Guinness Stout beef
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 – 14 ounce cans beef broth
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into crosswise 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound red potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces (I like to cut them in half and then quarter each half)
- Fresh thyme sprigs (optional for garnishing)
- Cut away any thick ribbons and layers of fat away from the meat as well as the bone. Discard the fat but set aside all bones.
- Cut the beef in 1 inch pieces and transfer the stew meat to a large bowl.
- Add the 1 tablespoon of salt and the pepper to the meat. Gently toss the meet so the salt is evenly distributed. Massage the beef with your hand.
- Add the flour and toss the beef gently so each piece is dredged.
- Heat a large frying pan with one tablespoon of oil on medium high heat.
- Fry half of the beef until it is browned and seared. Remove the beef to its original bowl and fry the other half with the remaining oil.
- Once all the beef has been removed, add the onions, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, thyme and sugar. Cook the onions for 5 minutes until aromatic and soft.
- Pour half a bottle of stout beer and wine into the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits leftover from the beef. Transfer the onion mixture to a pressure cooker.
- Heat the pressure cooker on medium high heat. Add the remaining beer, tomato paste, and bouillon cubes. Allow the liquid to cook for a minute.
- Stir in the beef, carrots, and potatoes.
- Seal the pressure cooker and when the steam valve opens to indicate it is locked, cook the stew for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the steamer to unlock the valve on its own before serving.
- Garnish the soup with fresh thyme sprigs.