#12: wine x food pair | GARNACHA X BEEF + GUINNESS STEW 🍲
Matching a subtle Irish dish with a fiery Spanish red might sound a bit chaotic, but trust me - it will work.
This week, I’ve gone a little off the beaten track with the wine and the pairing - and it’s DEFINITELY knocking any dry January plans off your radar. Chances are, they’re off the cards anyway.
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This is one of my favourite reds, going with a deliciously hearty stew that has very little chopping to it. Even less of a faff with a slow cooker. Enjoy it!
The wine 🍷
Garnacha is the Spanish equivalent of Grenache which you might have had in a French or Aussie red. Still not ringing a bell? No problem.
Garnacha is a black grape that only does well in very hot climates, and is bold in a totally different way to some Bordeauxs or Shiraz that you might find a little overpowering. It’s not very acidic and it’s generally pretty high in alcohol, so it’s a lovely, warm drink red that’s full of black fruit without being too sharp. In France, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the most commonly known Grenache grape which can be lovely and treacley, while in Spain it’s a little more on the nose and punchy with its fruit.
There’s a few places that Garnacha can be grown in Spain, and it’s generally best when it’s blended with another grape - such as Syrah or Cariñena - which are a little bolder and help to mellow it out nicely. On the lookout for quality, a Priorat wine (named after the region) is a strong, fruity and bold expression of a Garnacha in a blend, while other parts of Catalunya or outside Madrid do an excellent quality too.
While it’s fairly high in tannins, I challenge even the pickiest of red drinkers to dislike a good Garnacha - it’s a nice warm balance that’s even better on a winter’s day.
My pick: Alfredo Maestro, Natty Boy Wines, £20. A very fresh 2021 vintage with a groovy alien themed label, this wine should be a good fruity but firm way to enjoy quite the bold red.
The grub 🍟
I’ve matched the warming effects of a garnacha to a hearty spin on the Irish stew, which you’ll need a bottle (and a bottle only, please) of Guinness. Guinness is something I love when I’m back at home as the exported stuff is never quite the same, but it’s a dream to cook with. It brings umami and sweetness when it’s in a bread, cake or - in this case, a stew.
Popping your oven on for three hours might seem like a faff with this one, but it’s super low maintenance and doesn’t really need a stir. Ideal to make during a work from home day and to get it ready for dinner - or to pop it in a slow cooker before you nip out for work.
The longer you let the beef slow cook, the less you’ll need a knife to munch through this which is perfect in front of the telly. I’ve gone for a mash slightly off the main convention by adding in some parsley or chervil root instead of spring onion to give it a bit of earthiness, and a sprinkle of parmesan which works WONDERS on its own with mash - provided you have a good parmesan from a deli to incorporate into it.
Why they go well together 🧪
Slow cooked beef in an already rich sauce is quite the intensity of flavours, and the Guinness will only add to that zing of umami that makes this so satisfying. While the potato can make things a little stodgy, I want the flavours and texture to linger in the mouth and be hugged by the wine, rather than popping in something really zingy to try and cut through it. Beef also needs a fairly tannic wine to cut through, which you have here - not that you will really feel it being that grippy, though.
The Recipe 👨🍳
This recipe serves two to three and a leftover for lunch, with some discipline. End to end, it’s going to take three hours to let it cook and get the beef tender, but you could short cut it to an hour and a half ish. Trust me, it’s not slaving away over a pot for that long and the increase tenderness is well worth the prep beforehand! Ooh, and you’ll need a Le Creuset style casserole dish for this one too.
What you’ll need:
500 - 600 g of stewing beef, chopped roughly
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 parsnips, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
A few sprigs of thyme (if you’re not growing it at home, grab a pack)
500 mL Guinness bottle
Beef stock pots/cubes to make up about 500 mL total
One tablespoon of flour
Two tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
500 - 600 g potatoes (ideally floury for mashing)
1 tablespoon butter
25 g of chervil or parsley roots, finely chopped like garlic (spring onion or garlic in place is fine and you can’t get a hold of them)
25 g REALLY good parmesan, grated (hunt down your closest Italian deli for it, it will make a huge difference)
Some cream or full fat milk on the side, to soften
What you’ve gotta do:
Preheat your oven to 180 ° C (or 350 ° F), alternatively if it’s a fan oven, 160 ° C (320 ° F).
Start by popping your casserole dish on a high heat with the oil added to the base. Brown off the beef for a few minutes, stirring continuously and until it looks like it’s well sealed. Pop on a plate ready to be added in another few minutes.
Add the onions into the dish, and turn the heat down until they are nicely sizzling and starting to go a little transparent. Add the carrot and parsnip in until they gently soften (add a drizzle more oil if you feel it’s sticking to the pan a little bit too much). - PS, this is also a great time to chuck in any root or savoury veg you’re trying to use up here, like mushrooms - beetroot might even go well here too!
Once the veg have softened, bring the beef back into the dish and add the garlic, flour and the leaves off the sprigs of thyme and stir well. Turn down the heat a tad to make sure nothing burns and give everything a good season with salt and pepper.
Chuck in the Guinness slowly (so it doesn’t froth too much) and enough stock to cover everything nicely. Don’t chuck the remainder out yet. Bring the temperature up, allow it to come to a gentle simmer for a few minutes before placing popping the lid on the dish and bunging in the oven.
Allow the stew to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, checking on it every 45 minutes or so to give it a stir and make sure the beef is becoming tender. Add a dribble of stock if it’s starting to go a little dry too.
While the stew is in the oven, get the mash ready to go. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes while you’re boiling a large pot of salty water up, and plop them in gently. Let them simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until they feel soft and are breaking up with a fork.
Drain the potatoes and pop them back in the pot. Fry the butter gently, and gently let the roots fry for a few minutes until they start to get golden.
Transfer the roots and butter to the potatoes, and add the parmesan in, giving everything a good stir before mashing. If the potato is starting to puree in a velvety, pillowy fashion - amazing! If they’re a little dry, add in cream or milk until they’re starting to fluff up. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the beef is starting to break with a fork, you know that it’s ready to serve! Let it rest for a few minutes while you get plates ready, and make sure to season before serving. Ooh and you could chop a bit of fresh parsley on top or a few sprigs of thyme, if you want to be fancy.
And that’s it!
Tried this recipe, or have a proposal for a future post?
Be my guest! Pop a comment in the thread, and let’s start chatting.