Stew № 1

A beef stew made with stout and chocolate.

For a long time we’ve maintained Munch Munch over at, but I’ve been so impressed at the presentation quality of publishing systems like Medium and Exposure over the manual management of stylesheets and images through WordPress that I wanted to try a recipe here.

I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about naming recipes. I’ve spent a lot of time with the PDT cocktail book lately, and cocktails perhaps more than any other have names so deeply rooted in derivative reference and self-referential culture as to be impenetrable. As a total amateur, the recipes I write on the internet are hardly definitive as to deserve names, and furthermore are hardly likely to be the definitive example of the dish that I ever make. So I’ve decided to start numbering them. Stew № 1 might be better than Stew № 2, and Stew № 5 might be completely different altogether. But maybe, if I’m fortunate, Stew № 7 will be a recipe I return to over and over in the future.

Number 1, then, is a dark brown, beef stew. It’s made in my favourite way for stew—with beer—and though a little bitter, was very flavoursome and enjoyable.


I made a large batch, which I think should be enough for 6–8 portions.

  1. 1.5 lbs of stewing beef, diced into large chunks.
  2. 3 slices of bacon
  3. 1 large leek, chopped
  4. 1 large onion, diced finely
  5. 4 carrots
  6. 2 parsnips
  7. 1 turnip
  8. 6 cloves of garlic
  9. 8 Roma tomatoes
  10. 1 green chilli
  11. ⅓ cup of raw chocolate, broken up into chunks
  12. 2 teaspoons of Marmite
  13. A bottle of Imperial Stout (at least a pint.)
  14. Sage leaves, thyme, oregano.
  15. Salt, ground pepper.

Slowly fry the leeks, onion, chilli and bacon together.

This stew was partially made from leftovers, so although I would ordinarily have just slowly browned the onions and leeks in olive oil, I instead had an ample quantity of fatty bacon, so I cut that into chunks and used that for fat too. Later, the pieces of bacon mixed in with everything else in the stew was delicious so it’s probably now a vital part of the method for future recipes.

Nothing with stew happens quickly, so on a medium heat sweat down the onions and leeks, add the garlic and chilli, grind in some pepper (I don’t have good measurements for most of my seasoning, but I’m learning to be generous in it Probably assume at least a teaspoon every time, and this recipe was seasoned multiple times as it developed.)

Once the onions are browned and sweet, add the beef:

Beef like this is tough, and fatty, and will need as much time as you can giveit to be tender. Fry it a little to brown out outsides, and then keep the heat lower while adding the vegetables and liquid.

Add the parnsnip, turnip, carrots, herbs, chocolate, and Marmite. Carefully turn the content of the pot to mix it, then add the tomatoes.

Wait a few minutes for the tomatoes to steam in the pan, then turn them into the stew as well. Now add the liquid:

Pour in all of the beer (less any amount that you’ve sampled), then add water to top up the remainder and ensure the beef and vegetables are covered. Stir it all together one more time, then put a lid on the pan while it builds to a simmer.

At this point, you should probably watch a movie, or start calling around your friends to see who wants to eat some of this gigantic pot of stew. Once at a low simmer I checked in on it every 20 minutes to make sure it was under control and not sticking or burning. It’ll be eadible in an hour, but you’ll want to give it as long as you can for the toughness of the meat to soften up.

After an hour, the liquid will be a wonderful deep brown. You’ll want to periodically sample it, and add salt as you desire. After a while I also used a little cornflower to help thicken the sauce, but also remove the lid to let it cook down once the tomatoes have decomposed.

Since I’m never able to find suet in the US to make proper dumplings, I’m a big fan of just putting a few ladles of stew in a bowl, and serving with a hunk of New York Rye bread, generously buttered.

And a glass or two of red wine.

You can find more writing about food by myself, David Singleton, and Becky Hales on Munch Munch.

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