2 pounds stewing beef (well trimmed and cut into one inch cubes)
1/2 cup flour (for coating the beef)
Salt and pepper (to season dredging flour)
2 – 4 tablespoons canola oil (for pre-cooking the beef)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups frozen pearl onions (about 12 oz package)
2 to 3 parsnips (julienned)
16 oz. baby carrots (1 packet)
2 pounds red potatoes (quartered)
1 and 1/4 cups Guinness stout (1 bottle (11 oz))
3 cups beef broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon thyme
3 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 to 3 tablespoons corn starch (for thickening stew at end of cooking)
1/4 cup beef broth (to mix with corn starch to thicken stew)
Peel and julienne the parsnips into 2 inch long pieces to match the length of the baby carrots. Add the pearl onions, baby carrots, parsnips, and potato quarters into the bottom of the crock pot.
Season the flour in a flat bowl and dredge the beef chunks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the floured beef cubes and brown them on all sides. You may need to complete this in two steps depending on the size of your skillet.
Remove the beef from the pan and add to the crock pot. Add the garlic to the skillet and brown for one minute.
Mix 1 cup of the beef broth with the red wine vinegar and dijon mustard in a small pitcher. Pour into the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen any beef or garlic.
Add the stock from the skillet, the additional beef stock, water and Guinness to the crock pot.
Add the thyme, bay leaves, cloves, brown sugar and chocolate chips to the crock pot. Mix ingredients together.
Place the lid on the crock pot and cook the stew on low for about 12 hours. Try not to lift the lid of the crock pot too often during cooking, since this can allow the heat escape and slow down cooking. The stew is done when the vegetables are tender.
Put the corn flour in a small pitcher or bowl and blend with 1/4 cup of cold beef broth, making sure the mixture is smooth. Turn the crock pot to high and add the thickening. Season the stew according to taste at this point. Cook for an additional 20 minutes to allow the stew to thicken. Stir occasionally.
Remove the bay leaves and discard. Serve in a large soup bowl. Tastes great with Irish Brown Bread.