Smooth operator: 17 dreamy recipes with Guinness

It has been a whole 12 months: St Patrick’s Day 2020 was one of the first celebrations to be widely cancelled because of Covid, leaving a lot of people with surplus Guinness and no one to drink it with. Who imagined we would be in the same situation a year on?

Clearly some people only drink Guinness on St Patrick’s Day. Pre-pandemic, an estimated average of 13m pints of the stuff were poured worldwide each year on 17 March. But if you once again find yourself with more Guinness than you know what to do with – and first and foremost, I suggest that you try simply drinking it – there are a number of recipes that employ the good Irish stout as a key ingredient. Here are 17 of the best for this 17 March.

Of all the many different dishes that make use of Guinness, approximately three-quarters are some version of stew. A traditional Irish stew is made with mutton, but it doesn’t usually have any beer in it. So here’s a beef and Guinness stew from Allegra McEvedy that fulfils the brief: carrots, onions, braising steak and horseradish dumplings.

Beef and Guinness pie.
Beef and Guinness pie. Photograph: Tim Hill/Alamy

Pies are also common, usually of the traditional steak variety, but using stout instead of ale. Rick Stein’s beef, Guinness and oyster pie adds shellfish to the mix. There’s a debate as to whether a pastry-lidded stew such as this one counts as a pie, and I intend to play no part in it. Meanwhile, this recipe for smoked baby back ribs comes directly from the Guinness website, which may explain while it tells you to use four cans of the stuff.

Matthew Fort’s sausages with onions and Guinness reminds us that stout is a very good thing to have on hand when you want to make gravy. Tamal Ray’s Guinness mac and cheese heretically contains no macaroni – he prefers rigatoni, or almost any other pasta – but it does have a welcome measure of Guinness (300ml) in the cheese sauce. This Guinness mushroom rarebit uses much the same tactic and James Martin’s non-French onion soup uses dark beer where you might normally add wine.

Guinness also figures in a surprising number of desserts, including Nigella Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake and this fruity, St Patrick’s Day-specific cake from Colman Andrews, which uses stout instead of rum or whisky, although there’s nothing to stop you adding a splash of the latter as well.

Liam Charles’s recipe for coconut bread pudding comes from his nan and is a hand-mixed combination of ripped up wholemeal bread, dried fruit, desiccated coconut, eggs, butter, sugar and Guinness. In spite of the Irish stout, this Guinness pecan pie is actually a US Thanksgiving recipe, with US ingredients (such as corn syrup) and measurements (such as “1½ sticks butter”), but don’t let that stop you. Substitute golden syrup for the corn syrup; a stick and a half of butter comes out to 170g. As for the cups, do what I do: choose an average-to-generous mug, and eyeball the fractions.

There aren’t that many vegan Guinness recipes in spite of the fact that Guinness itself is vegan and has been since the brewery stopped using isinglass as a clarifying agent a few years back, having developed a new filtration process. Isinglass is made from dried fish swim bladders, which is generally something you only tell people after you’ve stopped using it. But here’s one for a vegan Irish stew in which the meat is replaced with a substitute called seitan, which can be bought jarred or tinned, or as a flour to make at home. The result may be vegan, but it certain isn’t gluten-free, because seitan is made from gluten.

This vegan Guinness cake from So Vegan and these Guinness triple chocolate brownies by Wallflower Kitchen are both dairy-free takes on desserts such as Nigella’s chocolate cake, although, inevitably, they contain alcohol. For the moment there is no other option: a zero-alcohol version of Guinness did briefly appear last autumn, before being quickly recalled due to potential microbiological contamination. Its reintroduction still awaits.

In the meantime, regular Guinness can also form the basis of a number of St Patrick’s day drinks. Black velvet – Guinness and champagne in equal measure – is famous, but among the lesser known cocktails is the St Patrick’s Day flip, which makes an excellent nutritional supplement for those whose diets happen to be deficient in both alcohol and condensed milk.

Finally we have a cocktail from Kieran Monteiro of Boma Restaurants called the Irish goodbye. It’s a shaken-not-stirred blend of Guinness, Irish whiskey, creme de cassis and lemon juice. The Irish goodbye may turn out be a drink not just to commemorate St Patrick, but also to commiserate over the Brexit-induced, ever-hardening border between these islands. Yeah, cheers for that. Same again.