Create the Best Spring Stew With These 'GMA' Food Stylist's Tips

PHOTO: The finished stew, prepared by chef Karen Pickus, is shown here.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

This time of year we are all anxious for spring to arrive. It's right around the corner! With St. Patrick's Day approaching it's time for a whole celebratory meal around all things green.

Braising is one of the best ways to cook shoulder because it is a flavorful cut but tenderizes when it is cooked in liquid. The method works well on top of the stove. You can derive the same results by adding the liquid, bringing the stew to a boil on top of the stove, covering and placing the Dutch oven into a 350 degree oven for about the same amount of time. Just check the stew after 1/2 hour and stir. This way there is much less chance of scorching the stew when it is braised inside the oven. Proceed the same way when adding the vegetables.

Try this step by step recipe for spring beef stew braised in Guinness with asparagus, peas and potatoes. To complete the meal, make my Shamrock salad and Irish soda bread recipe from my blog, Karen Loves Good Food.

PHOTO: Preparing the ingredients is the first step in making a stew.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012
Gather the Ingredients

1/3 cup of flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 lbs. 1" cubed shoulder of beef or lamb
3 tbs. olive oil
2 yellow onions cubed
5 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 lbs. potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
2 - 12 oz. bottles of Guinness Stout
2 cups chicken or beef broth, or half and half
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut on the bias 2 1/2 inches long
1 10 oz package of frozen peas

PHOTO: Don't overcrowd the pan when browning the meat in a stew.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012
Brown the Meat

Season the flour with the salt and pepper and combine thoroughly on a plate. Toss the meat onto the plate, a few pieces at a time to coat, shake off any excess and place on a plate. When you have dredged half of the meat heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a 4 quart Dutch oven. Sear half of the meat on all sides until golden brown. Remove the seared meat and reserve on a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat.

PHOTO: Add the aromatics to the stew after you have browned the meat.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012
Brown the Vegetables

Add all of the meat back to the pot. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.

PHOTO: Add the Guinness and let it reduce by half.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012
Add the Liquid

Add the Guinness, and let it reduce by half, then add the stock. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower the heat to a simmer and braise the stew for 1 hour -1 1/2 hours.

PHOTO: The finished stew, prepared by chef Karen Pickus, is shown here.
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012
Add the Vegetable Garnish

The meat should be tender but not falling apart. The juices should be thickened. Add the potatoes and simmer for about 15 more minutes, covered, until the potatoes feel tender when pierced with a knife. Add the prepared asparagus and peas and cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes until the asparagus are tender and retain their bright green color. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Serve with my Irish Soda Bread and Shamrock Salad.

Recipe, photos and writing by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy, Karen Pickus 2012

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