Guinness Beef Stew with Bitter Chocolate

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I haven’t eaten a piece of cow meat for a long time. Translated: I haven’t had beef for months. Yes. It’s madness. Think of that as a teaser, ponder upon that ridiculousness for a bit whilst I beat around the bush…and no, I’m hardly the vegetarian.

The past week’s weather has been drop dead gorgeous and hopefully mentioning that hasn’t jinxed it for this week (probably has by now). Sunny and beautiful as it was, however, I got deceived by it all a couple of times thinking a lighter jacket was more than warm enough for me to step out into the sun. Mistake. More often than not, that first step out into the cold, similar to a newborn baby’s noisy entrance into the world, was followed by general shrieking, long strings of cussing and unattractive groans and grrrs from me. Chanting ’suck it up’ in my head, I spend about 5 mins racing through the cold to warm up and literally walking only in the sunny areas, avoiding all shadowy spots at all costs to get as much warmth as possible. Through the day, I’ll catch myself jerking uncontrollably when a big cold gust of wind comes a-blowing. Travelling between uni, work and home then, I find myself constantly thinking of warm, comfort foods as a way to encourage myself and as incentive to get those icy feet moving quickly to take me home. It certainly is most effective and definitely keeps the strangers from talking to you (I’m that engrossed in my thoughts you see).

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I am happy nonetheless with this generous amount of sun we’ve got the past week and it has made the week so much bearable despite the looming deadlines and the awful stack of readings to do. And as the saying goes, good things come in pairs, so did a nice surprise come along with this beautiful sun – some very high (for The Sugar Bar at least) views for 4th March. Because they exceeded my expectations, I rewarded myself with some lovely fresh and tender stewing beef from Waitrose and got set to working on a nice hot stew to keep that bone-chilling cold away as well. In Chinese culture, having meat on the table is representative of how fortunate a family is and is partially reflective of the wealth of that family. In Korea, beef is quite a luxury and eating it becomes an occasion. So I suppose, it wasn’t such a strange thing to reward myself with beef after all! Especially since I hardly ever buy red meats in my weekly shop, finally buying some made it feel all that more special. It’s not that I don’t eat red meat. I actually love a good medium rare steak and other red meats like pork and veal. It’s just that I think cooking red meats require more effort and so never really bother to get them since I can never be sure when I have the time to cook a meal or not and dare not risk having nice meat go bad in the fridge.

I did think at first that a 22 year old like me should probably be buying nail lacquers and pretty notebooks as a reward not packets of bloody red meat from the delicatessen. It just didn’t quite fit the bill but then again, I doubt that ever bothers me; and I’m quite happy to say foodbloggers are a unique species of their own with priorities set right to a tee, fine senses highly tuned and dedicated to the arts of eating, cooking and food-shopping. So why not the beef?! Just chuck it in the shopping basket already now! By the time I’d finished my shopping and was eagerly waiting to pay at the check-outs, so hungry I was all bloodshot eyes and nearly frothing at the mouth, the basket was exploding with root vegetables, baguettes, bitter chocolate, beer and herbs, etc. I didn’t need a sign on my forehead to alert the passersby and fellow Waitrose shoppers that this Diva here was as dangerous as a rabid dog and as ravenous. Minimal chit chat with the lovely lady at the checkout till, quick goodbye and outta there like a flash. Then home, out comes the chopping board. Bang bang chop chop chop and turn on the hob.

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Then here comes the biggest joke of my life. Check recipe – stew needs to cook for at least 6 hours. Ok, put lid on and move on to ‘light’ snacking. Had to reprimand myself for not putting the stew on earlier. Panic not though as here’s when I whack out another saying: Good things come to those who wait.

I waited.

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And when I was done waiting, it was good. Thoroughly impressed with this recipe which is such a great find from The Parsley Thief blog. Definitely one of those that I’ve saved for future use, especially for meal times with the family. I think Dad will be very happy to find a stew like this at the dinner table. What a meat man. Not really a Guinness man but he’ll appreciate the blokish-ness of this dish. Plus bitter chocolate sure gives it such a cool edginess I think the rest of the girlies in my house will adore it. Mum may find that addition dubious – she’s the only woman I know who doesn’t like chocolate. Real tough to please when it comes to homemade birthday cakes I tell you – but this isn’t a chocolatey stew and it’s not so strong like a Mole Poblano. I don’t think I could really taste the chocolate but I bet I would taste a real difference and have seen a big difference in colour if I hadn’t added it.

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Something I discovered when making this, Green & Black’s Cook’s 72% dark chocolate is heaven. It’s even better than the dark chocolate from their regular range, in my opinion. It might be because it’s a lot richer and more bitter for cooking purposes than the eating chocolate which is totally up my alley. It was good. I might just stick to buying Cook’s chocolate from now on to satiate my dark chocolate cravings.

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