What could be more heartening and filling in MARCH than a delicious bowl of Irish stew, a popular dish from Ireland and loved the world over. Though a hugely popular dish on St Patrick's Day, this dish is far too good to reserve for a few days a year; eat it when you want a comforting and warming dish.
Made here with Lamb
Irish stew was traditionally made with mutton (sheep), but it is now often made with the easier-to-find lamb. I am not partial to Lam and prefer Beef.
Either meat will make a delicious, hearty stew. Controversy reigns over whether adding vegetables other than potatoes makes the perfect Irish stew. Adding onions, leeks, carrots, and cabbage does add extra flavor and nutrition to the stew, but the choice is yours.
The beauty of this Irish stew recipe is that little else is needed to make it a meal because it contains vegetables. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all of the delicious sauce.
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
Oil, for frying
1 sprig dried thyme
2 1/2 pounds best end of lamb neck, cut into large pieces OR... if Lamb is not your taste: 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
7 carrots, chopped lengthways into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons pearl barley
5 cups Chicken Stock, recipe follows
Salt (recommended: Fleur du Sel)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf)
12 medium potatoes
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch chives
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the onions in oil and butter, on medium-high heat until they are translucent. Add the dried thyme and stir. Add the lamb and brown on high heat to seal in juices. Add carrots, and pearl barley. Pour in the Chicken Stock so that it almost covers the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and add Bouquet garni. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, being careful not to boil. Place potatoes on top of the stew, cover, and cook for 30 minutes until the meat is falling beautifully off the bones and the potatoes are fork-tender.
Made here with Beef
2. Serve the stew in large flat soup bowls, and drizzle Herb Butter over the potatoes or garnish with parsley and chives.
Stock: 3. Preheat the stockpot. Combine ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Then let it cool down and skim off the fat.
4. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add parsley, chives, and thyme.
Yield: 6 servings