Irish Beef Stew, as his Mother used to make it..

beef stew

There’s nothing nicer than a good beef stew – beef is so robust that you can add all sorts of delicious flavours to it. I’m thinking beer, wine, dried mushrooms, garlic, bay-leaves, sun-dried tomato paste (possibly not all at the same time, in the case of the beer and wine) This makes a very hearty, flavoursome dish, which can be turned posh in an instant, by adding some fresh mushrooms and crème fraiche.

In Ireland, we add carrots, onions and potatoes to beef to make a delicious one-pot dinner. I know of some people who always add brown sauce to their beef stew. I think that I like them more in spite of that, than because of it 😉

beef stew

Here’s an everyday, comforting beef stew, as handed down through the generations of Mr Saturday Night’s family. His Mum was  a great believer in adding a shin bone to a stew – it’s almost exactly the same thing as adding the lamb bones in my Mother’s lamb stew, except that it takes rather longer to cook. The bones add a huge amount of flavour and goodness, which you can’t replace with a stock cube. You can still get ‘shin’ in the butcher’s shop – all you have to do is ask there’s a picture down in the NOTES for you. This stew has a huge amount of flavour, but not a lot of meat, making it a very economical and nutritious family dinner. In these busier times, we all tend to use beef pieces which will give us a delicious stew relatively quickly.


  • Frying pan
  • oven-proof casserole
  • sharp knife

INGREDIENTS: To feed 6 hungry people..

  • About 500g steak pieces, fat removed (see NOTES for Shin version)

Beef stew (4)

  • tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • About 450mls hot beef stock
  • dessert spoon of plain flour (not required if you’re adding potatoes)
  • 2-3 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped.
  • 1-2large leeks, well washed and cut into chunks (optional)


  • 2 medium potatoes per person, peeled, washed and cut into even-sized pieces (not too small) keep these in a bowl of cold water until you need them.

potatoes 5

  • a few bay leaves, and some thyme, fresh or dried


  • Heat the oil in the frying pan, then brown the beef pieces until charred on all sides. Remove to the casserole dish
  • Add more oil if you need to, and throw in the onions and carrots, and leek if using.
  • Stir fry them until they’re starting to soften, but not brown.
  • Add them to the casserole.
  • Add the flour if using, and mix through well.


  • Then add the hot stock, and stir well.
  • add the herbs and some seasoning


  • Cover and place into a medium oven ( 120-140 fan) for an hour or so.
  • Remove from the oven, give it all a good stir, then add the potatoes and return to the oven for another hour or so, until the potatoes are cooked. Check half-way through to see if you need to add some more water.
  • As soon as the beef pieces and potatoes are cooked, you’re ready to serve..

Serve in bowls, with crusty or wheaten bread, with or without that brown sauce that I mentioned earlier!






  • To use the shin-bone method – put the shin into a large pot of cold water with the chopped onions, carrots and herbs. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the shin, and shred the meat from the bone. Return it all to the pot, then add your potatoes as before and continue to cook until the potatoes are done. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the bone before serving the stew as before.

I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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