This is another recipe blog entry. Unlike most of the ones I have been posting in this blog, this recipe doesn’t come from my late mother-in-law’s collection.

There was a time when most of the larger ethnic festivals in Baltimore were held in the Inner Harbor. (Unfortunately, there aren’t as many ethnic festivals held in Baltimore as they used to be prior to the 1990’s and the ones held in recent years were held in places other than downtown Baltimore or the Inner Harbor.) I remember that my husband and I went with my parents to an Irish ethnic festival in the Baltimore Inner Harbor area sometime in the mid-to-late 1980’s. (I know it was shortly before my father began his long illness and disability that ended with his death in 2000.) I had purchased this thin paperback from one of the vendor booths that was written by Mercedes McLoughlin and Marian McSpiritt called The Irish Heritage Cookbook. The book has a 1984 copyright date and it was published by an Irish company called Careers and Educational Publishers Limited. That’s the only information I have about the book itself.

That book was a revelation to me because, even though my mother’s father’s family had immigrated from Ireland and my family observed St. Patrick’s Day by wearing at least one item of green clothing or jewelry, I was relatively ignorant about Irish cuisine. I knew that corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes were considered to be the key elements of the quintessential Irish meal but that cookbook quickly educated me that there was more to Irish cuisine than that. Many of the recipes are for seafood which, if you think about it, makes a lot of sense since Ireland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

There’s one recipe in that book that has become a favorite meal for my husband and I. In fact, I have a tradition where I fix that meal every St. Patrick’s Day and I fixed it again yesterday since it was March 17. It’s a beef stew that uses Guinness stout beer. It is very easy to prepare and it is very tasty. (By the way, if you’re uneasy about consuming alcohol for any reason don’t be concerned about the fact that this recipe includes beer. The heat from the oven will destroy the alcohol in the beer so you don’t have to worry about getting drunk off of this meal or serving it to pregnant women and children.)

Beef Stew With Guinness and Prunes

2 lbs. lean stewing beef
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt*
Pepper to taste
2 tablespons cooking oil
2 small sliced onions
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup Guinness stout
1/2 cup water
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup pitted prunes, soaked and drained**

Cut beef into serving pieces. Mix flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the seasoned flour. Brown the meat on all sides in the cooking oil. Add bay leaves and onions and continue cooking until lighly browned. Place in dutch oven or casserole and add Guinness and water. (If necessary, add more water to cover meat.) Add sliced carrots. Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Add prunes and continue cooking for 1/2 hour.

Serve with parsleyed potatoes.***

*You can omit this if you are watching your salt intake.
**I’ve substituted raisins for the prunes and it worked out really well.
***The big flaw with this cookbook is that none of the recipes have any serving sizes listed, which is unusual for a cookbook. (I can remember the one year when I loaned this book to a friend at my church congregation who was helping with planning a fundraising Irish ethnic dinner at the church and she grew frustrated with the lack of serving sizes since she was preparing food for at least 100 people.) Depending on how big your appetite is or how many side dishes you plan on serving with this stew, you can get anywhere between 4-6 servings.

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