Ireland doesn’t always stand out as one of the great culinary contributors to world cuisine. Exotic? No. A satisfier-of-the-masses with delightful takeaway dishes? No. In fact, the country’s most well-known contribution can probably be summed up in three items: Guinness, Tayto crisps and Barry’s tea.
With this in mind we have decided to offer you another option for this year’s coming St. Patrick’s Day celebration other than swilling Guinness, devouring cheese and onion Tayto’s and nursing yourself with a nice cup of Barry’s the next day of course. Irish Stew can be deemed the national dish of Ireland but, despite coming from an Irish family, I don’t think I have ever eaten it let alone actually cooked this dish.
As we all know it rains a lot in Ireland… A LOT! But the simplicity of the flavours and great ingredients means this dish will warm you up on the most miserable of days. The best meat to use would be lamb neck, but we know from hard earnt experience the only place to find that would be a butcher and could possible break the bank.
We have used simple diced lamb chunks from our local supermarket, and created a fantastic stock from deglazing the pan. A tip when browning the meat – DO NOT STIR!! Leave it there till it caramelises and the meat will simple come off. This also gives it a beautiful mahogany-brown colour.
Enjoy with a cold Guinness or, as we did, a glass of Club Orange.
500g Floury potatoes (Maris Pipers or King Edwards)
500g Waxy potatoes (New potatoes or charlotte potatoes)
3 onions (one quartered and other 2 chopped into thick rings)
1 bay leaf
1kg carrots (peeled and thickly chopped)
1kg Lamb stewing steak
1ltr cold water
200g smoked streaky bacon (cut into strips)
Salt and pepper (to season)
Start by peeling and cut into chunks the floury potatoes and leave them in a bowl of cold water to prevent them browning. Cut the waxy potatoes in half no need to peel, again leave them in a bowl of cold water.
Quarter one onion and roughly chop one carrot. Place this in a small saucepan with bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme and 6 black peppercorns.
Heat 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Once it has come up to the heat, batch cook the lamb placing the cooked lamb in a dish to stand. Deglaze* the pan in-between batches, pour this liquid into the saucepan with the onions, carrot, bay and peppercorns keep this on a low simmer; this will become the stock for the stew.
Once the lamb is cooked do the same with the bacon till crispy and set aside with the lamb, again deglaze the pan and add this to the liquid to the stock to simmer away.
Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil add the onions and turn down the heat. Cook them down till soft and sweet.
Once the onions are cooked add the meat, the remainder carrots, floury potatoes and strain the stock into the pot, adding more water to cover the meat as necessary. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes skim the water and add the waxy potatoes and few sprigs of fresh thyme and continue simmering for 20 minutes or till lamb is tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with chopped chives.
*remove the lamb and pour cold water into the pan to remove the cooking liquids