Let’s Eat by Charles Oppman
Since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to suggest that quintessential Irish dish―Irish Stew. There isn’t just one recipe for Irish stew (Irish: stobhach or stobhach Gaelach). Recipes can vary from home to home or region to region, but all are agreed that the meat must be lamb―mutton can be used, but this is meat from an older sheep and is less tender, fattier and has a stronger flavor. Another point of agreement is that the dish must include at least onions and potatoes. Many are adamant that carrots and celery are a must. The purist will insist it must also contain pearl barley, which acts as a thickening agent. The meat used is not the best cuts of lamb, but the cheaper ones such as shoulder, leg or shank. This famous meat stew is different than most in that the meat is not browned. In French culinary parlance, it can be cooked blanquette style. Pretty much the only difference between Irish stew and the beef stew Americans are familiar with is the meat itself.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch sections
1/2 cup pearl barley (optional)
4 cups beef broth, canned is acceptable
3 large red potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- 1. Heat oil over high heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add lamb pieces and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, but do not allow to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- 2. Add onions, bay leaves and beef broth. Cover and simmer over low heat until meat is slightly tender, but still undone―approximately 20-30 minutes.
- 3. Add the carrots, potatoes and barley. Cover all ingredients with beef broth. Replace lid and cook until meat and veggies are fork tender―approximately 20-30 minutes. Stir in parsley and rosemary. Taste again for salt and pepper; adjust as necessary.
- 4. Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with sprig of fresh parsley or rosemary. Serve with hearty brown bread and butter.
- 5. Best consumed with a pint of Guinness.