Many of you may not know this about me but I’m of Irish descent. My parents are both of Irish descent and while my Dad’s side of the family has lived in the U.S. a little longer, my Mom was only the second generation American-born citizen. It’s interesting to think that my great-grandmother made passage over from Ireland over to America with her brother, John, when she was just a teenager. To hear my grandmother tell it, her Mom and Uncle made the trip alone from Ireland down into England. She told me that her Mother and Uncle were supposed to take the voyage from England to New York on the Titanic. On the spur of the moment, they decided to stay an extra few weeks in England on Holiday before making their way to New York. It’s crazy to think how fate played a role in their decision not to take the illustrious maiden voyage on the Titanic. Now, I don’t know if that story is true or not but it’s one my Nana told me so I have to believe it has merit. Crazy, right?
Anyway, my great-grandmother brought with her all our family recipes from the “old country” as my Nana called them. I can’t recall any of my Nana’s traditional Irish recipes ever including beer or ale. Most traditional recipes are generally just flavorful, filling dishes that were not heavily seasoned with herbs and spices other than salt and pepper. As these dishes have been modernized and Americanized, many newer versions of Irish Stew now mostly contain the addition of an Irish Ale, like Guinness, and if you wanted to add that to this dish, you can do so while it’s simmering so that the alcohol will boil off leaving behind the concentrated flavors of the beer. That being said, if you do decide to add the Irish Ale, make sure it’s a flavor you enjoy because it will heavily flavor the broth.
Now traditionally, my Nana did not thicken the Irish Stew in the same way that we now thicken beef stew but I do prefer it this way as well. We serve this stew with a good crusty bread with butter to sop up all that delicious sauce. This traditional Irish Stew is hearty and delicious. The lamb is so tender it practically melts in your mouth. Enjoy a bowl this St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂
How to Make a Traditional Irish Stew
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 120 minutes
Total 130 minutes
How to Make a Traditional Irish Stew: As these dishes have been modernized and Americanized, many newer versions of Irish Stew now mostly contain the addition of an Irish Ale, like Guinness, and if you wanted to add that to this dish, you can do so while it's simmering so that the alcohol will boil off leaving behind the concentrated flavors of the beer.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil2 lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces2 onions, peeled and chopped3 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced1 bay leaf1 tsp fresh thyme (add more or less, to your taste)4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped4 cups beef or lamb stock2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices2 tbsp buttersalt and ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 325°F.Place a large, Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and brown the lamb pieces in two batches. Remove and set aside on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium–high, add another tablespoon of oil and fry the onion, celery and carrot for 4–6 minutes or until the onions have softened.Return the meat to the pot and add the bay leaf, thyme and beef stock, season with salt and ground black pepper and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and push add the slices of potato pushing them down into and across the top of the stew, dot with small pads of butter and season the top with a little extra salt and black pepper. Cover and place in the oven to finish cooking for about 1½ hours or until the meat is tender. Serve in deep bowls with slices of crusty bread to soak up the amazing broth.