Beef & Guinness Stew with Colcannon

Beef & Guinness Stew with Colcannon plus Taking Flavour to the Next Level by James Bacon - @jamesbaconcooks

Not all beef stews are born equal. 

Here I will share with you, some tips and tricks In have learnt in the kitchen to elevate any dish to the next level.  When you have a great base like a hearty slow cooked beef stew, it’s important to lift the dish by adding elements of all four of the big hitting flavour notes: sweet, salty, spicy and sour!

When selecting your main ingredient for any dish, always have in mind how you will get the most from it! Here, for the beef shin, I invigorate the garlic and onions with mustard seeds and dried herbs. I enhance the gravy with anchovies, & porcini mushrooms, and bring the whole lot together with a dash of lemon and fresh herbs.

Balancing the dish is key to extracting as much flavour as possible, often achievable with everyday store cupboard ingredients.

Firstly, salt. Remember, this doesn’t mean always using salt. Anchovies, miso and soy are wonderful alternatives to enhance that umami flavour.

We also need to balance the sweetness. Vegetables will bring this element, but sugar, honey, maple syrup and agave will also bring this taste forward.

Spicy doesn’t necessarily mean hot. Pepper, garlic and ginger will fire up the flavour by adding anther dimension.

Lastly, sour is something I always find gives the lasting finish from rich to zing. Often a rich dish can feel too heavy, I use a squeeze of lemon, lime, or a dash of vinegar to bring the dish to life.

Finding your perfect balance of these will take any dish you make to the next level...

Note to bear in mind condiments you wouldn’t expect - brown sauce for acidity and fruitiness, ketchup for sweet and sour, Worcestershire sauce for salty and sour!

Kitchen tools needed: Cole & Mason Saunderton herb shaker, Cole & Mason Herb Chopper, oven proof casserole dish, large sauce pan, potato masher


  • 2 kg Beef for stewing (I used shin)
  • 1 marrow bone cut in to two pieces (optional but gives this dish the richness)
  • 1 can of Guinness
  • 4 medium carrots peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms quartered
  • 50g of dried mushrooms (porcini if possible)
  • 5 medium banana shallots sliced lengthways
  • 4-5 garlic cloves chopped finely
  • 3 Anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried sage
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 big sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • Enough flour seasoned with salt and pepper to coat the beef
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • The juice of a lemon
  • 1-2 Tbs ketchup
  • A glug of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • A small handful of chopped fresh parsley

Ingredients for the Colcannon

  • 6 medium marris piper potatoes
  • 1/2 savoy cabbage sliced into fine strips
  • 1 leek finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tbs finely chopped chives plus more for serving
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g of butter plus 1tbs for cooking the leeks and cabbage
  1. Pre heat the oven to 150 degrees. Cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and set aside. Season the flour with the salt and pepper on a plate and heat the pan with olive oil, in batches, flour and pan roast the pieces of beef on a med/high heat and set aside, if using the bone marrow you can roast in the pan with beef but make sure not to over crowd the pan.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the butter with a splash of oil, add the mustard seeds and wait till they start to pop and then add the shallots/onions and cook until they start to turn translucent about 6 minutes, add the chopped garlic and the dried oregano and sage and cook for 2 minutes, add the anchovy fillets cook for 1 minute or until totally broken down, add tomato puree and cook for 1 minute, add the the Guinness and cook for 1 minute. Now add all the other ingredients (including the bone marrow pieces if using) starting with the fresh bay, rosemary and thyme and finishing with the stock and mushroom water, bring to the boil and and then place in the pre heated oven and set a timer for 1 hour.
  3. Rub the Potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pierce with a fork multiple times and place directly on the oven shelf around the pot. Re set timer for 1 hour 45 minutes.
  4. Heat up the butter in a large frying pan and and gently soften the leeks, cabbage and garlic on a low heat and set (try not to colour them) Carefully remove the potatoes and set aside to cool slightly, cut in half and if mashing, scoop the flesh in a large sauce pan and mash, if using a potato ricer, just pop the potato halves with skin and press through on the finest setting, remove skin and repeat until all potato are done. Warm with more butter and cream and then fold in the leeks and cabbage mix and chopped chives, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Take the pot out and place on the hob on a medium/ high heat and take the lid off to reduce the sauce. Remove the marrow bones making sure they are hollow (if not, the marrow should come out with a gentle shake), stir to incorporate the marrow in to the sauce.
  6. The sauce with be rich but will need the extra level seasoning to bring it to life, start by adding these seasoning ingredients and tasting after each one to see what each one brings, a good couple of pinches of salt and a good few turns of fresh black pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of tomato ketchup, the juice of half a lemon and a dash of Lea & Perrins and then add more if needed.
  7. Serve a big spoon of the Colcannon with the stew around it and then sprinkle with the fresh parsley and enjoy!

Seasoning is a personal thing so make this dish the way you like it.


The serving board every kitchen needs for expert entertaining. Choose from small, medium and large to present your best culinary creations.