This recipe originally appeared on Slow Food Ireland’ recipe page
Ballymaloe Irish Stew
Stew is something we think of as a winter dish, but in reality, Irish stew is best in early summer, made with youngish lamb and the new season’s sweet onions and carrots. In this recipe, the fact that the meat is cooked on the bone (we use shoulder and neck chops) greatly enhances the flavour.
1.3kg (3lb) lamb chops or hogget (gigot or rack chops) not less than 2.5cm (1 inch) thick
6 medium or 12 baby onions
6 medium or 12 baby carrots
freshly ground pepper and salt
850ml (1 1⁄2 pints/3 3/4 cups) lamb stock or chicken stock or water
12 potatoes or more if you like (Golden Wonder or Kerr’s Pink are excellent)
sprig of thyme
about 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) roux , optional
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
Cut the chops in 50g (2oz) pieces and trim off some of the excess fat.
Set the pieces aside and render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy frying pan (discard the rendered down pieces). Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young, leave some of the green stalks on the onions and carrots).
Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are young leave them whole.
If the onions are large, cut them small, if they are small they are best left whole.
Toss the meat in the hot fat until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole. Season each layer generously with freshly ground pepper and salt. Deglaze the frying pan with lamb or chicken stock and pour into the casserole.
Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme and bring to the boil on top of the stove.
Then cover and transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, about 1–2 hours, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or mutton.
When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, degrease and reheat the liquid in a saucepan. If you like slightly thicken the juices with a little roux. Check the seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives and pour it back over the stew. Bring it back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.
Irish Stew with Pearl Barley
Add 2 tablespoons of pearl barley to the stew with the vegetables and increase the liquid to 2 pints as the pearl barley absorbs a considerable amount of liquid.