This Irish Stew may look like a disaster and probably doesn’t have enough refinement for a dinner party but trust me when I say that it is so full of flavour! I know the French have a talent for making their stews look like works of art but traditional Irish cooking doesn’t have their bows and whistles. We have much more of a “cook-the-spuds-quick-before-they-get-the-feckin’-blight-again” type of cuisine. Some countries eat to live and others, like France, live to eat. Whereas for centuries in Ireland it’s more an issue of whether we harvested potatoes in the cold and rain to live or if we lived to harvest potatoes in the cold and rain. I’m sure history scholars will one day be able to answer that question. Either way, this stew may not look like much but this dish has been time-honoured and cherished dish by Irish people for centuries. Or as my ancestors are likely to have put it, in their thatched one-room house with earthen floor as they cooked the stew over an open fire, “We’re stone feckin’ mad for it!”
The lamb and vegetables are browned lightly in the trimmed and rendered lamb fat which, I know, is excessive but this dish dates back to as early as 1800 and that century saw a remarkable drop in the B.M.I. of the Irish people so if you say that this is fattening, well, you cannot argue with the facts! Don’t be surprised if the next fad weight-loss craze to sweep the globe is the Irish Stew Diet. You heard it here first!
- 1.5 Kg lamb chops
- 7 medium sized onions, peeled and halved through the root
- 6 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1.5 kg potatoes, peeled
- 1 L lamb stock
- 2 or 3 tbsps salt
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- Trim most of the fat off the lamb chops.
- Heat the trimmed fat in a frying pan until about 2 tablespoons of fat has been rendered. Discard and unrendered fat.
- Brown the lamb on both sides in the rendered fat and remove from the heat. This may need to be done in batches.
- Toss the carrots and onions in the fat until lightly brown and remove from the heat.
- Pour off the remaining fat and deglaze the pan with the lamb stock.
- In a large casserole pot, add layers of lamb, carrots and onions seasoning with a pinch of salt between each layer.
- Pour over the lamb stock used to deglaze the pan.
- Add the potatoes to the top of the pot so they will steam and season them.
- Tuck in the bunch of thyme and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, clamp the lid on the pot and remove to a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius and roast for an hour and a half.
- While it is roasting, melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour.
- When the stew comes out of the oven, remove the potatoes, meat and vegetables and add a ladle or two to your flour/butter roux. Mix together until thick and smooth.
- Return the now thickened juices to the casserole, mixing them in the the rest of the juices to thicken.
- Return the potatoes, lamb and vegetables to the casserole, mix gently and serve.