Traditional Irish Stew

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
Yellow onion illustration for easy irish stew recipe
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.

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