Cookery Club

Cookery Club started a few weeks ago. Some of our meetings have been very successful. Some have been woefully unsuccessful (read: am feeling too lazy to cook, so let’s just drink beer instead).

We started off having “rules” about what days cookery club had to happen on and who would decide what we would make and in who’s kitchen, but slowly this whittled down to one mostly well-kept rule, which is:

You may only reap the rewards of cookery club, if you in fact have cooked during cookery club.

This rule was created solely for the lazy and hungry boyfriends and boy friends among us.

Anyway,

In true preparation for St. Patrick’s day/weekend we themed our cookery club this week around an appropriately Irish dish.

Really?

Actually no, it genuinely was just a happy coincidence.

Happy coincidences put aside, this week we made Nigerian Guinness Stew and because this was just so easssyy and simple to make we added our own mother’s (collective mothering dontcha know is very in) best soda bread recipe to the stock pile.

Nigerian Guinness is otherwise known as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. But I think the first one has a better ring to it, don’t you?

It’s essentially the hardcore double strength Guinness that does not populate Ireland’s pubs and bars too often. Where it does get sent is Nigeria, where they drink it by the plenty, think our version (around 4.3% as opposed to the foreign extra stout which ranks in at 7.5%) is water and so for good reason have become one of the world’s leading drinkers of Guinness.

So we all know what stew is right? I mean basically it’s just browning off some stewing beef/lamb/seafood/sausages (according to wikipedia the last one should be included, though I’ve never experienced sausage stew myself) with some veggies, usually onions and carrots and anything that can take being in liquid for 2 hours without turning to mush, and then adding your liquid (cue guinness or beef stock) and cooking it at a low heat until the meat is tender and the sauce or gravy is gooey.

Not that I’m like the queen of stew or anything. Actually if you were ever named queen of the stew, I think you probably got ripped off.

Nigerian Guinness Stew

You’ll need:

  • 1.2 kg stewing beef
  • 4 – 6 (I used small) carrots
  • 2 – 4 (I used small red) onions
  • A drop of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of flour
  • some beef stock (either use half a cube/jelly mould thing of the preprepared stock or let’s say 200ml of beef stock)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 pint (more or less) of Foreign Extra Stout Guinness
  • 1 large casserole dish or sauce pan
  • An oven

Method

1. Cut up your onions and carrots rustically. I like my carrots to be cut into circles for stews. It looks prettier. But I mean it’s a stew, so don’t worry if not everything’s evenly sliced.

2. Cut up your beef into chunks (around 1 inch wide), heat up some olive oil in a casserole pan or large saucepan and brown the beef, cooking until all of the pieces are brown (the key is in the name there).

3. Add the onions and carrots to the pan that now contains some beef “juice”. Do not be alarmed. THIS IS FLAVOUR, in liquid form. Sauté the onions and carrots.

4. Add the beef to the veggies and then add the flour to soak up any extra liquid. Then cook for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Add your Foreign Extra Stout Guinness, your beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper.

6. Bring to a simmer (small but not big bubbles) and then pop in the oven at 140 C for between an hour and two hours.

7. Take out at the one hour mark and decide if it gooey enough for you, sinon, put in for longer. Add final seasoning with salt and pepper. REMOVE BAY LEAF AND THYME SPRIG. And voila.

Mam’s Irish Soda Bread

You’ll need:

  • 400 grams of plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon of salt
  • 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • Half a bottle of buttermilk (which is probably about 500ml, and if, like me you find it hard to find butter milk sometimes, a good trick is to use normal full fat milk add lemon juice and leave it for an hour to thicken)
  • 1 large tablespoon of olive oil
  • A mixing bowl
  • A bread tin
  • An oven

Method

1. Mix the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda in the bowl using your hands. If you lift up the dry ingredients while mixing them it means the bread will be lighter and more air-y. So mammy says.

2. Add buttermilk bit by bit into the dry ingredients, mixing with a spoon now. It will look a little goopy. DO NOT FEAR the goop.

3. Use the olive oil to coat your bread tin and then sprinkle it with flour to help get the bread out of the tin once it’s finished baking. Then pour in the mixture and bake in the oven at 220 C for 30 to 35 minutes until crusty. To know when your bread is ready to be taken out of the oven, the key is to knock on the bread and once it sounds hollow, it’s good to go!

Let’s have just one more shot for good luck.

Truth to be told, if you’re really digging the Irish feeling, you can’t miss out on pairing a meal such as this with a brilliantly named Irish Pale Ale.

Happy cooking!

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