Short and stout

25 Jan

I’ve been obsessed with celeb chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for four or five years now.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (or HFW as he is lovingly referred to amongst our friends) champions a “back to the land” type of cooking.  He encourages eating food that you’ve grown yourself or that you’ve found growing wild.  He’s also a strong proponent of raising your own meat and then eating every last bit of it.

Unlike many of his British TV chef counter-parts (Jaime, Nigella, etc.), he’s not very well-known in the United States.  As far as I know, there isn’t an American channel that offers any of his any of his programing.  Which is a little surprising because he’s been making TV shows under the River Cottage name since 1998.

Woman with very short brown hair holding up a copy of "The River Cottage Meat Book" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Thankfully, Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press (part of Random House) has started publishing HFW’s books in the US.  When we first saw a copy of The River Cottage Meat Book at Powell’s a few years ago, Nate snatched up a copy for me.  Since then, we’ve purchased several other River Cottage books, each of which will probably be featured on the blog at some point or another.

The topic of today’s post, however, is beef in stout.  This is one of two recipes from the book that see the most action at our house (the other: cold roast beef open sandwich).  When I received the January River Cottage email newsletter in my inbox, I was excited to see that they were featuring the recipe on their website. That gave me the perfect excuse to feature it on my blog!

I want to mention that even though this is a stew, it’s not exactly thrifty.  That said, it does serve 8-10 and the flavors are big; this could definitely be the base of a meal where your goal is to impress without seeming stuffy.

Cast iron dutch oven of dark brown steak stew with mushrooms

Anyway, go forth and check out the River Cottage recipe for beef in stout.  Just to make things easy for you, I’m copying down the ingredient list from my U.S. version of The Meat Book so that you don’t have to worry about conversions.  Look at how nice I am!

  • 3 pounds chuck or stewing beef or shank
  • 8 ounces salt pork, pancetta or bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter or drippings
  • 1 pound baby onions
  • Up to 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 cups stout
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A sprig of thyme
  • A few parsley stems
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms

I’ve found that baby onions are a pain in the ass to deal with, quite frankly, so I replace them with one large onion cut in half and sliced going with the grain.  I’ve left out the bacon before but my taste-testers noticed a difference.  We usually use Guinness Extra Stout (in a bottle) which has a little more bite than the Guinness Draught (in a can).  You can use whatever you like!

HFW recommends accompanying your beef in stout with dumplings or mashed potatoes.  Personally, I like buttered egg noodles, and roast squash and Brussels sprouts with mine but the choice is up to you.

Also, in case you’re wondering if this post is affiliated with anything HFW or River Cottage or Ten Speed Press, it’s not.  Nope, I’m just obsessed!

2 Responses to “Short and stout”

  1. Julie Jensen February 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I should really give this guy’s books a try. I saw him on an episode of one of my FAVORITE shows, Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Hilarious

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