Stews are rarely elegant, but that’s really not the point. An Irish stew is sweet comfort food that emotes caring with every bite.
Sprinkle it with a blanket of fresh green flat-leaf parsley to freshen up the flavor and dress up the dish for company.
Traditional Irish Stew (serves 6 – 8)2 onions 1 tbsp butter 3lb lamb – a stewing cut, I use best end of neck, and I ask my butcher for bones for the stock 6 small carrots 2 tbsp pearl barley (optional) 5 cups chicken stock (from a box is fine) Potatoes – about 4 cups peeled and diced (which is about 6 large potatoes) or a handful of new potatoes per person Bay leaf Spring of thyme 2 tbsp flour Olive oil Salt and pepper (Parsley and fresh bread to serve)
- Chop the lamb into bite-sized chunks, then dust with the flour
- Heat the butter in a splash of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, then brown the lamb being careful not to overcrowd the pan (you can skip this step if you’re impatient. It doesn’t make a huge difference to the taste). Remove the lamb and set aside
- Dice the onions and cook in a little more olive oil until soft
- Cut the carrots in half lengthways and add them to the onions, tip the lamb back in and cover with chicken stock
- Season well, drop in the pearl barley (if using) along with the thyme and bay leaf and a few bones from the butcher (if the idea doesn’t gross you out too much).
- Cover and cook on a low heat for 2 hours either in the oven (around 300 F) or on the stove top
- Skim the fat off the stew (if you drop an ice cube into it all the fat will solidify and cling to it so it can be easily spooned away)
- Half the new potatoes / peel and dice the regular potatoes and drop them into the stew. Cook for a further half an hour until the potatoes are tender
- Serve in shallow soup bowls with crusty bread and a sprinkling of chopped parsley
This recipe originally appeared along with a tale of Christie – a determined Irish friend of mine that proved it was possible to beat the New York dating game.