Next Saturday marks one of the most celebrated days on the Irish calendar, the day the optimists call “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day.” It’s a great excuse for a trip to an Irish pub, or at least a good reason to serve some foods with the name “Irish” in them — you know the ones: Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread, Irish Cream Cheesecake, Irish Coffee. In the event you need a refresher recipe for your September 17 event, here’s a classic you might enjoy.
Serves 4 to 6
For centuries, the principal cooking utensils in Irish country cottages were the iron pot and black iron skillet, both of which have been used in various forms since the time of the Celts. The pot was filled with water, and whatever meat, grain, or vegetable that was available was added for day-long cooking. Today, lamb is the meat of choice in Ireland’s national dish and the recipe has spawned interesting variations that use lamb shanks instead of lamb cubes, turnips instead of carrots, and stout instead of stock. I love this version. You’ll find it and other seasonal recipes in my newest cookbook “Favorite Flavors of Ireland.” Order signed copies at www.irishcook.com
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/4 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large onions, sliced
2 to 3 large carrots, sliced
2 to 3 stalks celery, sliced
1 small turnip, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
2 to 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Working in batches, cook lamb for about 5 minutes, or until all meat is browned.
3. In a flameproof casserole, alternate layers of meat, onions, carrots, celery, turnip (if using), and potatoes, ending with potatoes. Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper, thyme, and some parsley.
4. Add stock or broth and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender and stock has thickened. (Check dish occasionally and add more stock or broth if necessary).
5. To serve, ladle stew into shallow bowls and sprinkle with remaining parsley. PHOTO: Robyn Mackenzie | Dreamtime.com