On a cold day like today or even from now until the end of march, which is usually the case living here in Berlin, an Irish stew can warm the cockles of your heart!
Irish stew one could say is the national dish of Ireland and was traditionally simply mutton, onions and potatoes with salt an pepper and maybe some thyme, but as always there are different recipes from family to family and nowadays the use of lamb is more convenient than getting mutton. People also demand more flavour, so more herbs are used and of course garlic. Not only do we demand more flavour but we like to make the Irish stew more of a meal and add some root vegetables for good measure.
Usually I would follow a recipe if I haven’t cooked it before and then make it my own afterwards. I quite often will throw some pearl barley in to the thicken the source a bit. This was something my Mum always did and I must admit that I prefer it with the barley.
Anyway, here is the Irish stew basic recipe for you to work with!
1 kg lamb neck chops (or lamb shoulder cut into large cubes)
4 medium onions, peeled and cut into various sizes
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into various sizes
5 medium carrots, sliced into chunks
500ml lamb or vegetable stock
Small bunch thyme
Salt and pepper to season
A couple of bay leaves
It’s best to cook the lamb in two batches as it will brown better when the pan is not full. So, in a frying pan heat some of the oil and add half the lamb pieces and brown them, then remove the lamb and place in a large casserole, cover with a half of the potatoes, onions and carrots.
Put the remaining oil in the pan, bring up the heat again and add the remaining lamb and brown all over, then place on top of the other ingredients in the casserole and cover with the remaining vegetables and thyme, parsley, bay leaves. Add the stock, cover with a tight fitting lid, cook in the oven for about 2 hours. Check to make sure the stock isn’t reducing too much, if it is add a little boiling water, making sure that the meat and vegetables are always covered by liquid. If the sauce seems a bit thin and runny at the end, cook a little longer with the lid removed to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and serve.