For me, the best use for Guinness is in cooking and my stew is the perfect place for it. I usually buy a six-pack of it, use one bottle, and give the rest to my 23-year-old the next time he comes to visit. This year, I cheated on the colcannon. I boiled thinly-sliced cabbage until it changed color, then drained it. While it was cooking, I crisped some diced pepper bacon in another pot. After the cabbage was well-drained, I stirred it into the bacon & cooked it further. Finally, I stirred in leftover cheesy mashed potatoes with a little milk. It was yummy, even though I forgot the scallions I usually add.
2 lb. lamb shoulder chops
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. oil
3/4 c. Guinness stout
1 lb. potatoes, diced (I used Yukon Golds this year, to good effect)
1 lb. baby carrots
1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
32 oz. beef broth
A couple tablespoons butter roux
Season the lamb with salt & pepper. Sear on both sides in hot oil, in a soup pot. Remove from pan. Add Guinness and deglaze pan. Return lamb to pot, along with veggies. Cover with broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer a couple of hours (until lamb falls off bones). Remove bones from stew. Add roux and cook another 10 minutes to thicken. Serves 4.
Irish Soda Bread
3 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
1 c. raisins or currants
1 c. buttermilk (or 1 c. regular milk mixed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice, if you've forgotten to pick up buttermilk)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender until it disappears into the flour. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can mix it in with your fingertips. Add caraway seeds & raisins/currants. Whisk the milk & egg together well. Add to dough and mix lightly, using your hands, until it comes together. Place on a floured surface and fold it over on itself several times, shaping it into a round loaf as you work. Place on a foil-covered baking sheet and cut a cross in the top. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cook another 15 minutes or so. Serves 6-8.
This year, I also added some lime jello with mandarin oranges mixed in, to honor both the Catholic and Protestant folks of Ireland. My great-great-grandmother, Maggie, was a Scots-Irish Protestant who came to America in the 19th century. My granddad always wore orange on St. Patrick's Day and I wear orange and green. So, it was fun to have an orange and green dessert, too. Plus, I love any excuse to eat jello. Reminds me of my grandmom.