I finely chopped a bit of bacon, browned it, and removed to brown the beef in the bacon drippings. And I used about 3 TBS tomato paste. I brought to a simmer on the stovetop and then cooked in 350-degree oven for about 2 hours. My stew was very thick without the cornstarch, and I don't care for that texture in my soupts and stews, so I omitted. It was so thick that I actually needed to add a splash more beef broth, and I also added a splash of Guinness (just to reinforce the flavor a bit) and some frozen peas when I removed from the heat. Oh, and to make sure the stew wasn't bitter from the Guinness, I added about a TBS of minced raisins before putting in the oven. It may not be traditional, but it's perfect for us and very good on a cold rainy day.
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I finely chopped a bit of bacon, browned it, and removed to brown the beef in the bacon...