“Traditional” Irish Stew
by Charles Oppman
With St. Patrick’s Day almost upon us, there is no better way to celebrate this special day than to make 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 onions and potatoes. Many are adamant that carrots are a must and some even like peas, turnips, parsnips and/or celery. The purist will insist it must also contain pearl barley, but this would not be common nowadays at least. 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 is cooked blanquette style. This recipe serves 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch sections
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks (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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the carrots, potatoes and parsnips. Replace lid and cook until meat and veggies are fork tender―approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in parsley and rosemary. Taste again for salt and pepper; adjust a necessary.
- Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with sprig of fresh parsley or rosemary. Serve with crusty bread and butter.