CrockPot Guiness Beef Stew

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A delicious savory stew that is wonderfully complemented by my Irish Soda Bread. 2 pounds beef stew meat. Usually you can find it already cut into pieces and trimmed of fat. If not, be sure to trim the fat so it doesn't end up in the stew. (Note to Kate, lol) 1/4 cup of flour to dredge beef in. salt and pepper to season flour 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large sweet onion, diced 2 large shallots 2 large parsnips 2 large carrots or 8 oz peeled and washed baby carrots 4 cups chicken broth 2 cups draft Guinness beer 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon thyme 3 bay leaves 1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 pound red potatoes, quartered 2/3 cup flour (to thicken the sauce) Heat oil in large skillet until almost smoking. Dredge beef chunks in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and add to hot oil, brown thoroughly on both sides until very brown. (5 minutes per side) Toss into crockpot, and repeat with remaining beef. Now, you see that pan with all the little bits of browned meat stuck to it. Those are some mighty tasty bits and I would suggest you add that to the stew. Do you know what they are called? Fond. Yes those bits of leftover crisp tasty meat are called fond. Did you know that? I didn't either. Anyway, take about a half a cup of the chicken broth and pour it into the hot pan, bring to a quick boil and scrape the pan thoroughly to loosen the fond and the flour left in the pan. Toss into the crockpot, right on top of the browned beef. Now, peel and chop up the turnips, carrots (unless you bought the baby ones like I do for convenience) and potatoes and add to crockpot. Dice onions, no need to be finely diced, nice chunks of onion are good, and the same goes for the shallots. They'll separate during cooking anyway. (Isn't this a purty picture? I just took it 'cause the veggies looked all colorful and stuff.....I never used to even THINK about this crap, much less photograph it until I started blogging ..........UGH!) Add the seasonings (and bay leaves, don't forget) and sugar and chocolate. The reason we put chocolate in this recipe is for sweetness and to help offset the tartness of the beer. Believe me, together, they are an awesome combination. Now pour the chicken broth over the top of everything in the crockpot. Then pour 3/4 of the Guinness into the crockpot. You want to reserve the last of the Guinness to add at the end when mixed with the flour. This will thicken the sauce a bit as well as add fresh Guinness taste to the stew after cooking for so long. Now, put the top on the crockpot and only stir once or twice during the next few hours. I frankly cook it on HIGH for two hours or three hours and then turn it down and cook on low for eight more hours. Truth be told, I'm forever tasting it, and testing it, and stirring it, but I know this makes it take longer to cook. But seriously, it may take 12 hours of cooking before it's ready. You'll know it's done when it's DARK brown, and all the vegetables are tender. NOW, and this is critical, the soup needs to be salted and peppered. Pepper, no problem...you like a lot of pepper, add a lot of pepper, you not so much like pepper, don't pepper to much. Ah, but the salt, here's the problem. It's EASY to cook something delicious for 12 f'ing hours and oversalt it. Believe me, I've DONE it! Here's why, we taste it, at the end of the cooking cycle, and it will taste bland and obviously needs salt. So pour about a teaspoon of salt into it. But here's what a lot of people do. They wait about 5 - 10 minutes, taste it again, and it's still bland, so they salt it again, and later do the same thing, and on and on. The fact is, once you salt, it takes about 20 minutes for the salt to completely melt, and stirring, to totally distribute the taste so you have an accurate measure. You see what I'm saying? Err on taking your time when salting....let it cook for 20 minutes, stir, and taste again. Actually, sometimes I just salt the soup when serving..... Anyway, sorry to go on and on, but I've done it and KNOW better..... Salting it would be a good time to also mix the flour thoroughly into the remaining beer and pour it into the crockpot. (btw, flour mixes with a liquid a lot easier when it is added first, and the liquid poured onto it, instead of the other way around) Anyway, cook on high again for like 20 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. And turn it off, and let it sit. And if you're like me, you've smelled the stuff cooking for 12 hours, tasted it numerous times, tested it, eaten a couple potatoes and turnips as it neared completion, and by the time it's done, the LAST thing you feel like eating is Guiness Beef Stew! That's OK, that's normal. It's better on days 2 and 3 and 4 anyway.......! LOL After the flavors blend, and it cools down and chills....man, this is worth making. Enjoy! Man this stuff is good. It's not JUST the Guinness, it's the slow cooking of all the spices, and sugar, and root vegetables, and all their goodness, and the essence of the beef.....Totally, one of my favorite crockpot recipes..... Did I just SAY totally? God I'm so like my kids.... Sup Gee? LOL Really, do try it.....I think you'll like it..... Leave a comment if you do, that's all I ask.