Irish beef stew is one of the greatest comfort foods on the planet and it’s even quicker and easier to make in your pressure cooker! Read on for tips on how to get the best flavour for your Irish beef stew in your Instant Pot.
I am Irish by association. That is, my husband’s family is Irish and he is Irish-Canadian therefore I can claim some of the luck of the Irish for myself. Either way, this Guinness beef stew is delicious and deserves a place on your dinner table, whether you are Irish or not!
I adore stews and I live on them during much of autumn/winter, but they do take their sweet time cooking. This is not an issue when you have time to leisurely have a stew bubbling away for hours on your stovetop or in the oven. And you can’t beat the housewarming aroma of a stew as it slowly cooks…
But it becomes very much an issue if you are short on time and have hungry kids looking at you accusingly across the dinner table.
Which, by the way, has never happened to me… nothing to see here! Anyway, you can shorten the time a stew needs to cook considerably by employing your trusty pressure cooker – I mean it is practically what they were made for, apart from awesome cheesecakes of course.
Cooking your Guinness beef stew in a pressure cooker takes 35 minutes ACTIVE pressure cooking time. The cooker still needs to come to pressure first and then slowly release that pressure at the end of cooking.
But on the plus side this requires no participation on your part – the cooker does all the work in the background. You don’t have to preheat the oven, or watch your stew or anything like that. This appeals to be greatly as I always have a million things on the go, and not all of them are making the kids their dinner!
Having said all that, the fact remains that this stew is even more delicious (by about 20%!) if you serve it the day AFTER you make it. The flavours are that much more concentrated and intensified if they have some time to get acquainted.
As an added bonus, you can also skim most of the fat away if you store the stew in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the surface and solidify in the fridge and you can skim it off before reheating the stew.
What to add to your Irish beef stew
Guinness beef stew can be made with swede, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery… It’s really up to you how what you put in – just don’t leave the beef, bacon and Guinness out!
I have use plain and wild mushrooms here – frozen wild mushrooms as it happens. My kids aren’t mushroom fans (yet!) so if you are not a fan either, you can replace with root vegetables if you prefer. Serve over mashed or roast potatoes and some crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
If you would like to cook the stew in the oven/stovetop instead, please follow the method in the recipe card notes. Unlike the pressure cooker method, low and slow is the secret to a tasty stovetop/oven stew.
How to thicken your Irish beef stew
Making a stew in the pressure cooker requires a lot less liquid. Since the pressure cooker is a totally sealed environment there’s no evaporation and no way for the liquid to cook down. I prefer to thicken my stew by adding a little cornflour (cornstarch) slurry at the end of the cooking process.
The cornflour (cornstarch) needs to be heated in order to thicken the stew, so I usually give it about 5 minutes of cooking on the ‘sauté’ function with the lid off. If you are looking to freeze your stew then it would be best to use arrowroot as a thickener instead of cornflour (cornstarch).
You could also thicken your stew by mixing some of the liquid with a little mashed potato – or by adding some grated raw potato into your stew at the start of the cooking process.
How to flavour your stew
Some stews can be a bit bland, especially in the pressure cooker. Browning the beef first will always add extra flavour, so don’t skip that step! In this stew, the beef is seasoned first with salt and pepper and then browned in the Instant Pot.
It would be even better to brown the beef in a large casserole pan – crowding the meat will make it steam instead of sear. Alternatively, add the beef in batches in your pressure cooker.
You will notice that in the video the beef is not browned enough – this is just because I was the on-camera hands, videographer and dogsbody all in one. Do brown your beef cubes until they are nicely coloured on all sides.
Adding Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and a little tomato paste will bring some umami flavours to your stew. I sometimes add a teaspoon or two of anchovy paste – this adds depth of flavour without tasting ‘fishy’, trust me. Anchovies and tamarind are the flavour bombs in Worcestershire sauce after all.
Add a ‘bouquet garni’. Tie up a bundle of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves using a celery stalk or a bit of leek as your anchor and drop this in your stew. Discard this before serving.
If you enjoy this recipe, make sure to check out my highly aromatic and totally crowdpleasing Instant Pot Vietnamese beef stew!
Pressure cooker Guinness beef stew
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 150 g (5 oz) bacon lardons
- 150 g (5 oz) finely chopped shallots
- 1.2 kg (2 1/2 lbs) braising steak cubed
- 1 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 200 g (7 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
- 200 g (7 oz) wild mushrooms, sliced
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Bouquet garni see notes
- 320 ml (1 1/3 cups) Guinness
- 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) or arrowroot
- Handful chopped fresh parsley to garnish
- Season the beef with the salt and pepper and set aside.
- Turn the pressure cooker on and select ‘sauté’ function.
- Heat the oil and butter and add the bacon. Cook for a couple of minutes until the bacon is sizzling.
- Add the beef, in batches, and cook until browned on all sides. This might be easier done in a casserole or skillet on your stovetop.
- Add the chopped shallots and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the mushrooms and carrots.
- Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire and soy sauce.
- Pour in the Guinness, add the bouquet garni and give everything a good stir.
- Cover, set vent to sealing and cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes then manually release.
- Stir the cornflour (cornstarch) or arrowroot with 1 tbsp cold water to make a slurry.
- Select the ‘sauté’ function again and stir in the slurry. Let the stew bubble away for about 5 minutes, until thickened.
- Discard your herb bundle, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve over mashed potatoes and garnish with chopped parsley.
- I used a 6L/Q Instant Pot Duo for this recipe.
- To make the bouquet garni, tie up a bundle of parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves using a celery stalk or a bit of leek as your anchor. Discard this before serving.
- To make the stew on the stovetop – use 1 litre (1 quart) of Guinness or half Guinness and half chicken broth. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Brown the bacon in a large casserole dish. Add the beef and cook until seared on all sides. Pour a little Guinness to deglaze the pan and scrape any browned bits. Transfer the beef and bacon into a bowl. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and cook the shallots, mushrooms and carrots for a 5 minutes. Return the beef to the casserole and stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire and soy sauce. Pour in the Guinness, add the bouquet garni and give everything a good stir. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
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