Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is in the Air

Autumn smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, and the first clue that summer is finally over is when our local grocery store starts stocking my favorite Pumpkin ale. As a bonus, this morning they also had clusters of cinnamon brooms that make the store smell divine. Halloween is also coming - one of my favorite holidays (though my Halloween this year is doubly scary since I will be attempting to run 100 miles on it).

This weekend we had some very welcome rain, and yesterday I got in a great 10 mile run with my group before it started. Since this is my pullback weekend I didn't do any extra mileage beforehand so I was feeling frisky and went out fast. We ran around the Brushy Creek neighborhood and every three miles or so I'd stop and wait for my group to catch up. I'd let them all pass me then chase them down again. I did this three times, and it was a great focused workout.

On the other hand today's run sucked, so the less said about it the better :-)

We had company this weekend, and last night we drove out to Lockhart for some yummy BBQ at Blacks. Lockhart is famous for its BBQ, and Blacks was a really cool throwback, exactly what comes to mind when you think of good ol' Texas BBQ - the jukebox was playing oldtime music and you could smell the smoke in the bones of the building. We enjoyed a great feast of brisket, sausage, potato salad, coleslaw and pinto beans, finished off with some peach cobbler.

Tonight I decided to take advantage of our cool and rainy weekend by making some of my rustic and hearty Irish Stew.

Irish Stew with GuinnessThis dish contains three of the staples of Irish cooking - meat, potato and Guinness. And let's face it, there's nothing more Irish than a good old pint of the black stuff - it flavors this wonderful stew to perfection. The addition of prunes adds some sweetness that offsets the distinctively bitter taste of the Guinness.

You could cook it in a stock pot or large saucepan, but I think cast iron imparts a ton of extra flavor, so I always use my trusty dutch oven.

Serve with a side salad and warm bread.

1lb beef (chuck roast, stewing beef etc), cubed
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
1 can of Guinness
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 large carrots, thickly sliced
1/2 cup prunes, halved and pitted
2 bay leaves
Thyme and ground pepper (to taste)

Heat 1Tbsp canola oil in the dutch oven and add the onions. Cook until transluscent then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer. Remove from dutch oven and set aside.

Heat another Tbsp of oil and brown the beef quickly under medium-high heat. Reduce heat and stir in the flour until the meat is coated.

Add the stock and stir until it forms a thick sauce

Pour in the Guinness and stir until it reaches a simmer. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, prunes, herbs and pepper. Stir until combined.

Simmer uncovered for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. This will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, and result in a wonderfully rich and flavorful gravy. A big bowl of this will warm you up and fill you up on cold winter nights, and defines the term "comfort food".


clea said...

I used to work in Lockhart 1 day a week doing a mobile clinic. The docs always treated me to Black's. I probably gained a couple pounds during that time...

The Dylan pics in the last post are great!

johnt said...

Wow that stew looks good. You got any left?

DavidH said...

Looks good!

The prunes are an interesting addition (at least to me).

My fam and I also cooked up a tasty quinoa/spinach soup over the weekend to warm up the soul.

David Jacobson said...

Mmmm. I LOVE thick beef stews like that. I've used Cabernet, but never tried Guinness. Must do. I also like barley, and much, much more garlick. :-)