Irish Stew

Country: 
Ireland

Irish Stew is Ireland’s National Dish. Traditionally made from mutton, the recipe was recognised as early as the 1800’s .

Its origins reflect the methods of farming carried out at the time where subsitance farmers raised sheep mainly for milk and wool and only the older ewes and male sheep were killed for meat. Since this meat would have been tough, it needed to be cooked very slowly in an iron a pot over a turf fire.

The contemporary version can be cooked in an oven or slow cooker.

Ingredients: 

900g boneless lamb neck, trimmed and cut into cubes
50g pearl barley, washed
900g potatoes, cut into chunks
450g carrots, thickly sliced
1 medium leek, well trimmed and thickly sliced
225g baby pearl onions, peeled
100g rindless piece smoked bacon, diced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tbsp cornflour

FOR THE LAMB STOCK
450g lamb bones
1 carrot, cut into cubes
1 onion, sliced
2 whole peppercorns
1 bouquet garni (bundle of herbs tied together with string)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Process: 

1. To make the stock, place the lamb bones in a large pan with the carrot, onion,
peppercorns and bouquet garni. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then
reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours until you have achieved a good
flavour.
2. Leave to cool, then skim off any scum and/or fat and strain into a large jug. Cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.
3. Place the boneless lamb pieces in a clean large heavy-based pan and pour over the
reserved stock. Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum from the surface and stir in
the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes until slightly reduced and the
lamb is almost tender.
4. Add the potatoes to the lamb with the carrots, leeks, baby pearl onions, smoked
bacon and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are
completely tender but still holding their shape.
5. About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, blend the cornflour with a little water to make a smooth paste, pour it
into the sauce, stirring all the time until dissolved. This will thicken the sauce as it finishes simmering. Season to taste.
6. Transfer the stew into a warmed casserole dish and scatter over the parsley before serving.

healthy alternative: 

To make the recipe even healthier, you could add more vegetables to the stew.