Irish Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables
Out of all the recipes around the world that feature lamb, Irish stew is one of the best known in Western Culture. It’s a rich, filling dish, and was probably a vehicle for older mutton, with it’s richer taste, and need for lengthy cooking to become tender. Like some of the greatest dishes in the world, Irish stew was born from poverty cuisine, with people using whatever they had available, and the meat would often be unloved cuts like neck bones and other things, scrap and trim. If you want to be really historically accurate, you might consider using bone-in lamb or goat, which was probably the true cut originally used for the dish, as it would have been with it’s Scottish cousin, Hotch Potch.
For the vegetables, potatoes, carrots, and onions are the most commonly mentioned ingredients, but other root vegetables would undoubtedly have been added in season. Here, Chef Alan Bergo outlines his version using a large mix of different root vegetables for an exiting blend of flavors perfect for fall or winter when the best roots are available. Choose a variety of your favorite root vegetables and make the stew your own.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
Irish Lamb Stew
- 1.5 lbs lamb stew meat, goat stew meat or shoulder cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 lbs mixed root vegetables and potatoes peeled and cut into large pieces (see photo)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1.5 cups dark beer such as Guinness
- All purpose flour as needed for dredging
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 large cloves garlic finely minced
- ½ cup rendered lamb fat or other cooking oil
- 4 cups lamb stock or water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Pour the beer over the meat and refrigerate overnight (optional). The next day, remove the meat and dry well, then season aggressively with salt, and lightly with pepper.
- Toss the meat with flour, brown in the fat, then add the garlic and onion, cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beer, thyme, bay leaves, a good pinch of salt, and stock, bring the mixture to a simmer then turn the heat down as low as possible, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Skim the fat off the top and discard, then add the vegetables and cook until they’re tender and taste good to you, about 30 minutes more at a gentle simmer.
- Finally, double check the seasoning for salt and adjust as needed. From here the stew can be served as-is, but will taste better after a day, which will thicken it a bit more from the potatoes, and allow you to remove the fat that settles on the top.
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