So it is Paddy’s Day again and you are getting your green on. You are thinking Guinness – lots of (check), and probably some Irish stew. But are you doing it right? If you’re not Irish, I would hazard that you might be getting it wrong.
Controversial, yes, but I am Irish and I grew up on the stuff. Everyone has their opinion on our native dish (although I personally think that bacon and cabbage rivals it for national dish status), and regardless of a few things that can vary, there are some rules and things that you just don’t do.
Great Irish stew is about superb ingredients (all that rain gives us brilliant pasture for meat and vegetables), simplicity and long proper cooking. Memories of the Irish stew of my childhood fuel my fervour today. Recalling the nostalgic flavours of the sweet carrots and onions, the tender potatoes and the lovely lamb, all lingering in a gorgeous simple broth.
So, put down your weapons (well, utensils), clear your chopping board to the side, and correct these five common misconceptions before starting.
- You are using beef. No! Drop it and walk away. Irish stew is all about the lamb.
- You are using diced lamb. Again, no. Lamb chops are what you want to use. You need those lovely bones to give your stew extra flavour. Alternatively, a good flavoursome cut that tastes better with long cooking, like neck, will do well too.
- You are putting Guinness in it. No, no, no. Do put Guinness in a beef stew but not in an Irish stew. Just don’t do it.
- You are putting garlic in it. Dear God, why? This is not an Italian stew, it is an Irish stew, and as much as I love garlic, it has no place here.
- You aren’t cooking it long enough. Allow at least an hour and a half of cooking to let all of the flavours come through. Drink that Guinness you were going to put in it while you wait.
Okay, are you ready? Here is a recipe for a good and proper Irish stew, like the one that I grew up with.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1.5kg lamb chops (like Gigot chops)
- 1kg carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into good size chunks
- 4 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
- a sprig of thyme for cooking
- chopped fresh parsley to garnish
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to season
- dripping (rendered from the excess fat on the chops or from your butcher), or some light oil for frying
- Brown the lamb chops over a medium heat in the dripping or some oil, and put to the side.
- Sauté the carrots and onions in the fat leftover from frying the meat. Return the lamb to the pot with the thyme and cover with water or lamb stock before leaving to boil for an hour or so.
- Add the potatoes and continue to boil until soft.
- Season to taste and serve with the parsley on top.
Recipe Courtesy of Metro
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