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Graham Saga

Potato, Beef and Beer Stew

Cooking in beer gives the meat a distinctive aroma. Alex uses dark ale. This dish has the benefit of cooking itself, and is also relatively cheap as one can use cuts such as brisket or chuck. Plus it is low on fat.


In general in the 17th century, the potato had not made it to the American Colonists’ gardens, but Alex, being a time traveler, knows everything about this versatile tuber and therefore ensures she grows it.


Anna’s grandmother’s recipe for this dish (in Swedish, Sjömans Gryta – Sailor’s Stew) does not call for anything but meat, potatoes and onions. Anna likes adding carrots and parsnips, and now and then adds cabbage, but not too much. She likes to sauté it first with butter and a pinch or two of brown sugar.


Serves 6-8


12 - 14 potatoes, thinly sliced

2 medium onions, sliced

1 cup cabbage, sliced and sautéed until soft.

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ pounds (600 grams) brisket or chuck, chunked or cut into thin slices

2 large carrots, thinly sliced

2 parsnips, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bottle of dark ale

1 ½ beef broth


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Use a cast-iron pot, like a Creuset or clay pot, such as a Schlemmertopf. If using a clay pot, soak for 15-20 minutes before using. 

  2. Layer potatoes, onions and cabbage, if using, in bottom of pot. Sprinkle brown sugar over cabbage. Place a layer of sliced meat over the vegetables.

  3. Sprinkle generously with herbs. Put the bay leaves in whole.

  4. Add a layer of carrots, potatoes and onions, another layer of meat and so on. Keep the layers relatively thin. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each layer – but beware of too much salt!

  5. The last layer should be potatoes.

  6. Add the ale and broth, a final sprinkling of herbs.

  7. Bake covered in the Creuset for an hour or so. In the Schlemmertopf, bake for 90 minutes.  Stew may also be simmered on the stove for an hour or until meat and vegetables are tender.  That’s how Alex did it.


Serve with bread and a salad. Or just as it is.



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