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A simple winter stew recipe from Jamie Oliver

Several years ago, I participated in an online chat featuring Jamie Oliver. Here’s the excerpt with my question and his answer:

W: I enjoy beer and would like to incorporate it into my cooking as one uses wine. What types would you recommend, and with what kinds of food?

JO: Let’s start with the most basic thing. Get some stewing meat — lamb, beef — season it well, dust with a little flour, and fry it in a large hot pot with a good glug of olive oil and a couple of red onions, finely sliced. Chuck whatever whole or chopped veg you want, from carrots, celery, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, celeriac, or whatever. Then cover with your favorite beer. And I say beer, not lager.* Bring to the boil, and simmer with a couple of handfuls of rosemary and thyme. Allow it to simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours slowly, with a lid on top. When it’s finished and tender, season to taste. Serve in the pot, in the middle of the table, with a big bowl of mashed potatoes, a green salad, and a glass of beer. Happy days!

* I’m pretty sure he meant “ale” instead of “beer”.

wasabigelatine wants to know: Beer enthusiasts, what beverage would you use for this recipe?


  1. Cat wrote:

    I think it’ll come down to your personal tastes and trial & error. Ales come in so many different flavors, after all. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (heavier & quite sweet) would produce radically different results than Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale (lighter & quite bitter). Many porters would give you bold flavors in both directions.

    Just looking at the recipe, I think I’d be inclined to go the sweeter route. A stout that isn’t too dry or a Scottish ale might work with lamb and rosemary?

    A good Scottish ale is dark, a little heavy, and tends to have big malty flavors with very little hops. There are often raisin, caramel, coffee, and even licorice notes in it, and sometimes peat or smoke. I imagine this going quite well with northern European fare, especially root veggies in winter.

    A few of my favorites include Oskar Blues’ Old Chub (great beer in a can!), Orkney Skullsplitter, Allagash Musette, and Belhaven Scottish Ale. Thames Welsh ESB tastes more like a Scottish ale than an ESB, and might work for this.

    What kind of flavors might you be going for?

    Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Cat wrote:

    Another beer that’s similar to Scottish ale that may work well for this would be New England Brewing Co’s Atlantic Amber. It’s lighter than Old Chub but has some similar flavors.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  3. Budget Babe wrote:

    I’m taking notes for my next trip to the packie :)

    Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  4. Cat wrote:

    If anyone likes beer, but doesn’t know much about it and/or isn’t sure what styles they like, I strongly recommend making a study of it. That’s what I did, and I’m really glad I did. :)

    Check out wasabigelatine’s Wine 101 post. The same advice can be useful for learning about beer and discovering beers you like.

    Because I don’t trust my memory, I personally went very nerdy and got myself a little pocket notebook. Every time I try a new beer, I write down the name of the beer and its brewer, the style name if it’s not in the beer’s name, the volume and price if I know them, what the beer smells like, what it looks like, what it tastes like, and what it feels like. I try to be as descriptive as possible.

    If the style is not named on the label, I look it up on a website like Beer Advocate, BeerPal, or Rate Beer. IMO, it’s worthwhile to join sites like these, even if you only read other people’s articles and reviews.

    Over time, my beer tastes have really expanded and refined. I’m grateful for the time I’ve put into it. :)

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Cat — thanks for your input! I was thinking something along the lines of a porter or a stout, mainly because that’s what I like to drink but also because prefer something malty and sometimes sweetish. (Funny, since I don’t like sweet wines at all but I do like sweetness in beers.)

    What kind of Scottish ale would you recommend that has malty, sweet, and smoky flavors to it?

    Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
  6. Cat wrote:

    Any decent Scottish ale will be malty and sweet. Historically, I think hops weren’t easy to come by in Scotland, so this style evolved with sparing hop flavor. The flavors of dark fruit, caramel, and coffee are going to be common to pretty much all Scottish ales.

    Looking back over the few notes I have on me, Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (not one of my faves, listed above, but solid) has a bit of smoke to it.

    If you want something very smoky, try Smuttynose Robust Porter. I thought this was over the top when I tried drinking it, but it might be different in stew.

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  7. Old Engine Oil! I’ve actually had that and enjoyed it pretty well — thought it was a little heavy for casual drinking but might work in a stew. I’ll also have to try Smuttynose, if only for the name :D

    Monday, January 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

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