Beef & Guinness Stew

Ingredients for 4 large servings:
4 strips bacon, sliced into small pieces
2 1/2 lb. beef chuck, cut in 2-inch pieces (tossed with black pepper and at least 1 tsp salt)
2 onions, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.0-oz) Guinness beer, or other dark beer
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or as needed
1 tsp sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups mashed potatoes, optional (not really)
– Simmer stew on very low heat, covered, for about 2 hours, or until fork tender
– Uncover, raise heat to med-high, and reduce, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to your liking
– Taste and adjust seasoning!

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