Pot roast with Guinness and dried cherries (skip the sweet potatoes, go for the slaw)

BeefWe have been working our way through a batch of beef we bought from our biodynamic farm neighbors. While we enjoyed much of it, we were unsatisfied with the lean roast cuts (one rump, one sirloin tip). We tried several different methods with them, and in each the meat turned out to be dry and fairly tasteless. The experience left Steve ruing not experimenting with barding and larding, and left Michelle with the idea to send Steve out to buy a chuck roast.

When Steve returned from the grocery, he found Michelle once again turning to Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark’s Braise, a volume we admit to being unfairly critical of initially, as we’ve gotten a number of really good ideas from it (see here and here). Boulud’s recipe called for a pork shoulder, but we really liked the way the sour cherries and bitter beer turned out with a semi-local (Lexington area) chuck roast. Steve suggested couscous as an accompaniment, which Michelle thought might pair oddly with an Irish-type stew until Steve pointed the inclusion of very un-Irish sweet potatoes. Irish or not, the couscous went nicely with the Guinness and dried fruit, but we thought the sweet potatoes added little but mush.

Beef sandwich

Despite the sweet potatoes, our chuck roast with its sweet/bitter cherry and porter sauce made a great dinner, and even better lunch sandwiches on some homemade buns, accompanied by cole slaw. Boulud, you’ve become our buddy for braising—but those sweet potatoes are best left out of the pot.


(adapted from Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark’s Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine)

  • 2 bottles Guinness
  • 1/2 c. dried cherries
  • 3 TB balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 2-1/2 lb. beef chuck roast
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 2 whole allspice, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TB dark molasses
  • 1-1/2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped (optional)

Place beer, cherries and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Season beef with salt and pepper. Bring to room temperature. Brown beef on all sides in some oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Transfer to a plate.

If necessary, add more oil to the Dutch oven. Add onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add garlic and continue cooking for a few minutes more.  Then add beef, tomato paste, the marinated cherries and beer, allspice, bay leaves, molasses, brown sugar, some salt and 1 cup water.

Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. After an hour, turn meat. Cook for 30 or 45 minutes more, then turn meat again and add optional sweet potatoes. Cook until meat is tender, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours total.

If sauce seems thin, ladle most of it into a smaller pan and simmer until it thickens up. Taste for seasoning. Add sauce back to Dutch oven with meat (and optional sweet potatoes).


  1. I’m a big fan of braising, but it’s a shame you beef started out dry. Maybe you could choose the cow next time and massage it everyday, like Kobe Beef 😉

    • I think it was just a matter of cuts that I don’t really like. One of them reminded me of the roast beef in my college cafeteria. Although it tasted like shoe leather and had a really watery sauce, it (along with baked potatoes) was one of the only things I would eat my freshman year (the rest of the food being worse).

  2. That beef sounds amazing; such nice cooking technique and high quality. I will not skip the sweet potatoes… they will be amazing with the sweet cherries and tender beef. My husband is a cabbage addict; he’d probably pound down all of your light and refreshing slaw.

  3. I made a very similar braise last winter without the cherries or sweet potatoes. The ale and molasses added heaps of delicious flavour, must remember to make it again this winter. Disappointing that your biodynamic meat hasn’t lived up to expectations…

    • Oh, we’re lucky that our neighbors raise wonderful beef—we just didn’t like some of the particular cuts that came in the assortment we recently bought. Give me a shoulder or chuck roast anytime.

  4. Oh, I love the braising with beer/ale! Here in Bavaria, beer is used to flavor rustic pork roast mostly, not bad either..but your beef sounds
    so delicately flavored with those cherries-mmmhhh!

    • I admit to thinking that the “let’s put Guinness in everything” trend has been getting out of hand, but there’s no doubt beer makes a great braising medium. 🙂

  5. This will be well-received in the coming cooler months … although dried cherries aren’t available here. I might have to resort to the wild for a replacement … and will let you know what I find! Thanks for sharing what-reads-as a real winner …

  6. Oh how I love Boulud. What a gorgeous recipe. I bet that braise was so so soft. I want to make this. I also think anything with beer is better. If you add the sweet potatoes they have to be put in later. They wont turn to mush if you add them late. My husband is allergic to potatoes so I have to use parsnips or turnips or sweet potatoes and I’ve learned their boiling rates to a T by trial and error. Beautiful photos too. I’m back from Mex for a week and I missed posting because of Montezuma’s revenge. Ohhh what a beautiful, poisonous country. 🙂

    • Oh no! Inevitable, I suppose. Hope it wasn’t too bad. You’re right about the sweet potatoes. But I think if I was making this again and hankering for them, I’d just roast them separately.

      • P.S. Hope it won’t stop you from getting out and about. I have so enjoyed your Instagrams of Mexico. I didn’t know anything of the canal boats. Such beautiful colors, and thanks for causing me to look up something new!

  7. Sirloin tip (tri – tip) needs really slow cooking. At my last job I used it for an upmarket Sunday Roast. Sealed in a hot pan, seasoned and baked on a rack at 80*c for about 8hrs. Rested for an hour at least, flashed in a hot oven with plenty of butter and carved thin. Plenty of flavor and minimal moisture loss. The stew looks lovely and rich, I’ve read up a little on cooking with booze. It has a science which escapes me but basically there are water soluble flavours, fat soluble flavours and alcohol soluble flavours. Beer makes everything better.

    • At this stage of life, Roger, I’ll take compliments however I can get them. 😉 Kidding aside, I definitely want Steve to make some more of those buns. They are delicious!

    • Thanks, Mimi. It was a delicious dish. I take back all the bad things I said about that cookbook. (Though there are a number of real head-scratcher recipes in there.)

  8. Sounds delicious, like an Irish-Middle Eastern hybrid (which makes the Couscous a perfect choice, I think). You are on the right track re the cuts being the wrong choice: sirloin etc. are wonderful grilled or flash fried but absolutely deadly (and wasted) for a stew. It is the fat, connective tissue, gelatinous stuff of stewing steak aka goulash meat in Germany that imparts the flavour and needs long cooking to soften. I am sure if you try again with the proper cuts it will be totally different. Nicole

  9. wonderful recipe! can’t wait to try it out myself! =D

    It would be great if you could stop by my food review blog at: https://eatandtell1.wordpress.com/

    I am a True Foodie and have detailed reviews from artisan breads to burgers to cakes and cupcakes and the list is never-ending!

    Like, share and follow on Facebook also! =]

  10. As a fan of bitter tastes and long slow cooking this has strong appeal – even though it’s 39 C outside my window. I love what you do with flavours.

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