Posts Tagged ‘Guinness Beef Stew’

Guinness Beef StewWell, it finally happened…

After four long weeks on the road, we finally found GOOD food. I mean REALLY good food.

Up till now we’ve been subsisting on fast-food, chain-food, and any and all kinds of rubbish-food. It’s been awful and we’ve become increasingly crankier by the day. The final straw came this morning, when we decided not to visit Yellowstone National Park because the traffic jams and crowds felt too overwhelming. You could say we didn’t have the stomach for it.

We needed real food…and soon…but where?

Heading into Butte, Montana, last night, I felt certain we weren’t going to find what we were looking for…sustenance. Aging headframes, derelict buildings (complete with ghost signs), and a 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary glowing eerily in the distance doesn’t exactly scream, “Good-food served here!”.  But in Butte, the uptown is the downtown, the high is the low, and the locals know there is plenty of great-food ~ from Irish Pasties to creamy Guinness Stew ~ ready for the eating.

Known as “The Richest Hill on Earth”, “The Sodom of the West”, “Ireland’s Fifth Province” and, more recently, the town that is “A Mile High and a Mile Deep”, Butte was once a rich mining community filled with immigrants from around the world, particularly Ireland.

Butte Montana MinersThe first to arrive hailed from Mayo, Donegal and Cork, especially, the Beara Peninsula. By the early 1900s, Irish immigrants, mostly Catholic, made up one quarter of the population. Remarkably, by the turn of the last century, Butte was the most Irish-populated city in America. Almost every able man made his living in the mines, including Marcus Daly of Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, who was known the world over as the Copper King. As co-owner of the Anaconda Mine, Daly was second in American wealth only to Rockefeller.

Though they came for the chance to strike it rich, the Irish never truly left Ireland behind. In Butte, they arrived and promptly built neighbourhoods with names like Finntown, Corktown, and Dublin Gulch. They kept their cultural and ethnic traditions alive through language, celebration and food.

It is the food, in particular, that interests me. As you recall at the start of this post I was lamenting our need for good-food on this road trip. To find it…and then have it be Irish-food…in the middle of Montana…is, well… fascinating. The meal we ate last night at Casagranda’s Steakhouse was as good as any I’ve ever had…and that’s not just hungry road trip talk!  Casagranda’s is known for its perfectly seasoned, hand cut, Rocky Mountain grown beef {which by the way is delicious} but it was the Guinness Beef Stew that bowled me over. Creamy, rich, hearty, and ever-so-slightly sweet, this stew is not like any other I have ever tasted.

The Bertoglio Building, Home of Casagranda’s Steakhouse

I spoke with Lisa Casagranda Randall, co-owner of Casagranda’s Steakhouse, by phone to ask her for a copy of the recipe and to ask if, by chance, she had Irish roots running through her family. Her last name sounds Italian but it turns out Lisa’s great grandparents were both from Ireland, Cork and Donegal to be exact. They came to Montana for work and ended up building a life. Lisa spent many of her summers in Butte visiting family and eventually moved permanently to the area. With her sister Carrie Casagranda Leary, Casagranda’s was born 11 years ago. The Guinness Stew I had last night originally started out as an appetizer served on bread. People liked it so much however, that it eventually became a permanent dish on the menu, with bread served on the side. And though she hasn’t had the chance to visit herself, Lisa hopes one day she’ll make it back to the home of her ancestors across the sea.

Truth be told, from what I saw of Butte, Lisa is living as close to Ireland as someone in America can. It’s very hard to put into words but Butte feels more authentically Irish than any place I’ve been: it’s not like Boston or New York or Chicago. I, for one, hope to make it back soon: perhaps for St. Patrick’s Day 2014. It would be great craic (fun) to see how they do it there. In the mean time, if you are on a road trip and going through Montana, be sure to call in to Butte. Not only will you get a delicious meal at Casagranda’s but also you will find lots of Irish charm, history, and culture at every turn.

Casagranda’s Steakhouse Guinness Beef Stew

Serves 6 to 8


900g/2 lbs stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 2” (bite-size) pieces

50ml/¼ cup canola oil

2oz/¼ cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can Guinness Draught (not Guinness Stout, which is too bitter)

500ml/2 cups beef broth

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1oz/ ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

80ml/ 1/3 cup red wine vinegar


1. Spread beef evenly across a sheet pan.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sift flour over both sides of meat and evenly coat.

3.  Heat canola oil in a cast iron casserole dish until very hot.

4. Add the floured and seasoned beef and sear until golden brown on all sides.

5. Combine Guinness, stock, mustard, sugar and vinegar and mix well. Pour over beef and bring to a rapid boil.

6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is very tender.

7. Serve on its own or “traditional style” over mashed potatoes.


Related Articles:

Great Photos and a list of things to do in Butte at: http://theroadtriphound.com/2013/07/29/when-an-uptown-goes-underground-keeping-the-history-alive-in-butte-montana/

An Irish Times article about Butte at: http://www.ktvq.com/news/butte-most-irish-town-in-america-/#_

A road trip guide to Butte at http://biggestballofstring.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/36w-jan-9-butte-montana/

More great photos and information about Butte at: http://www.ramonaflightner.com/2012/09/04/butte-montana/

Butte’s Irish Language Immersion Programme at http://uhblog.ulsterheritage.com/2010/04/loading.html

An Irish woman’s view of Butte at http://missoulian.com/news/local/an-irish-woman-s-story-of-chance-leads-to-butte/article_59bef3f6-8eb7-11e2-b714-001a4bcf887a.html

The life and death of an Irish copper heiress at http://observer.com/2013/09/odd-but-not-out-of-it-eccentric-heiress-huguette-clark-had-her-wits-about-her-says-new-book/

Marcus Daly at http://dalymansion.org/history/mrdaly.php

NY Times Death Notice for Marcus Daly at http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F10F1FF73B5E14728FDDAA0994D9415B808CF1D3

Butte Today at http://www.mainstreetbutte.org

Interior designer, Bob Richter visits and reports on Butte for the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-richter/rich-in-history-land-and-_b_4095295.html

Timothy Egan writes about his recent trip to Butte for The New York Times at http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/true-irish/?_r=0

Rants and Reflections on Butte at http://fl250.blogspot.com/2006/06/butte-montana.html

Tried and True Recipes from Three Sisters from Butte at http://tseas.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/tried-and-true-recipes-of-butte-montana.pdf

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