March is the perfect time of year to take inventory of the wild game in your freezer and plan a special meal with the crew from hunting camp. And with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, enjoying a feast with wild game and a few pints of Guinness on the side seems to be the perfect combination. Whether working with ground or stew meat, fresh fish, or even a grouse or pheasant, it’s the perfect time of year to pair them with one of the best stouts in the world.
Guinness gets its vibrant color and flavor from roasting barley before brewing. And whether you’re drinking or cooking with it, the taste and aroma of the barley complements wild game. Perhaps the two were made to go together, as everything from deer to upland birds has a strong affinity for barley growing in an ag field. Each one of these recipes incorporates Guinness and wild game. If like us, you enjoy both, here are some ideas to get started on a St. Patrick’s Day meal to remember.
1. Guinness-Battered Fried Fish
Fish and chips is a classic in Ireland and the U.K., and anglers in North America love catching fresh fish and frying them to a crisp, golden treat, too. The Guinness in this recipe creates a light batter that puffs slightly and cooks into an even coating. Here we’re using lingcod fillets, but any firm white-fleshed fish also works.
- 2 lbs. lingcod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
For the Batter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Guinness
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- Frying oil
1. In a large bowl, combine one cup of flour and the rest of the dry batter ingredients. Slowly whisk the beer and canola oil until smooth.
2. Place the other cup of flour in a sealable bag. Add the fish to the bag, seal it, and shake the bag to coat the fish pieces until they look and feel dry.
3. Heat two inches of frying oil in a cast-iron pan or Dutch oven to 350 degrees.
4. Dredge the fish in the flour and dip into the batter to cover all sides, shaking off any excess.
5. Working in batches, place battered fish slowly into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
6. Serve the fish hot with some tartar sauce, fries, and slaw, and don’t forget a Guinness to help wash it all down.
2. Dark Irish Venison Stew
Stew is classic comfort no matter where you’re from. This recipe builds layers of flavor by rendering fat from the bacon for browning the meat and sautéing the root vegetables. The Guinness adds a rich taste of toasted barley to the pot and makes this comfort food taste and feel even better.
- 2 lbs. venison stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 4 slices of thick bacon, diced
- 3 Tbsp. oil
- 1 can (14.9 oz) Guinness
- 3 large carrots, sliced
- 2 parsnips, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, cubed
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas
- 3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- Fresh parsley, chopped
1. In a plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Add the venison, and shake until each cube is coated and dry. Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the bacon. When the fat has rendered, add the stew meat and brown on all sides.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Stir occasionally.
3. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled over each bowl and a piece of hearty bread.
3. Campfire Chili
A sure sign of a good chili is finding meat in every bite. The main ingredients here are venison, beans, and spices. Smoked paprika and chipotle peppers add flavors that remind me of sitting around a campfire, and the chilies bring a little heat to the meal.
- 1 lb. ground venison
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
- 1 15-oz. can white kidney beans, drained
- 1 7-oz. can chipotle peppers
- 2 10-oz. cans Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)
- 1 14.9 oz. Guinness
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large stockpot. Add the meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and coriander. Stir to combine the meat with spices while it browns.
2. Add the mushrooms, beans, chipotle peppers, Rotel, and Guinness. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir in tomato paste and allow the chili to simmer for a minimum of 1 hour to blend flavors.
4. Crumbled Venison Cheese Beer Soup
Cheese beer soup is a great pub snack that always leaves you wanting more. This rich and thick soup turns into a meal when you add crumbled venison sausage. Use sausage meat that you’ve already prepared or follow the recipe below to create the perfect harmony between meat, cheese, and beer.
For the venison
- 1 lb. ground venison
- 2 Tbsp. frying oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. dried sage
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. white sugar
- ½ tsp. ground fennel
- 2 oz. cold water
For the soup
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half (10 percent cream)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 bottle or can of Guinness beer (12oz)
- ¾ lb. shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the venison to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to ensure the spices are completely blended. Once the venison is cooked to your liking, remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and pepper until tender. Stir in the garlic and mustard powder and cook for one more minute. Slowly stir in the flour until it coats the vegetables evenly.
3. Slowly add the cream, whisky constantly. Add the chicken stock and the Guinness and bring up to a rolling simmer, stirring often. Slowly stir in the cheddar cheese and reduce heat to medium-low until the cheese is melted. Continue to stir, so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom before being blended into the soup.
4. Add a generous ⅓ cup of crumbled venison sausage to each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Serve hot with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or paprika.
5. Maple and Guinness Smoked Grouse
There are never enough ruffed grouse in the freezer at the end of the season, so the ones that have been stashed away deserve special treatment. Smoking grouse adds flavor, but it can also dry out the bird, so I like to use a Texas Crutch—a technique that chefs usually apply to brisket and ribs where they wrap the meat in foil to keep it juicy and speed up the cooking time. This works equally as well on upland game birds to ensure they stay moist.
- 4 ruffed grouse, plucked and cleaned
For the brine
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 quart water
For the maple Guinness sauce
- 12 ounces Guinness
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1. Brine the grouse by mixing the salt, brown sugar, and water in a large sealable bag. Add the birds and place them in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the beer (reserve 2/3 cup), brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, allspice, and Chinese five-spice. Bring to a simmer. Blend the cornstarch into the reserved 2/3 cup of Guinness, and slowly whisk the mixture into the simmering ingredients.
3. Remove grouse from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Place the grouse in a pellet smoker and turn to high smoke. Smoke the birds for an hour, bringing the internal temperature to about 100 degrees. The grouse will not be cooked at this stage. Divide the birds into two pairs and put each pair on a sheet of foil formed into a shallow bowl. Pour the maple Guinness sauce over the birds and cover, allowing it to pool in the foil. Seal each foil package tightly and double wrap if required. Return the birds to the smoker and turn up the heat to 350 degrees, and cook for 40 minutes. The crutch will steam and flavor the grouse while they finish cooking.
4. Serve one grouse per plate and drizzle with some of the sauce from the foil.