Julie Pegg’s Irish Stew

recipe from Julie Pegg


Purists consider a carrot in Irish stew a “no-good hanger-on.” This goes for adding celery, beef, turnips and barley, too. However I’m rather partial to adding carrots.


A shame but most North Americans disdain mutton. They find the flavour too stromg. Shoulder chops, cut and cubed, or stewing lamb suffice. I like to find a lamb neck.


Depending on ratio of bone and fat to meat you will need two to three pounds of lamb. Trim excess fat. Roughly chop three to four medium onions and two large carrots. Wash and peel (if Idaho or other thick skinned) two pounds of potatoes and slice into quarter-inch rounds.


In a deep casserole or Dutch oven add a bit of fat or oil brown the lamb, in batches, removing each batch pot into a bowl. (Make sure lamb chunks don’t touch or they will steam rather than brown). Line the bottom of the pot with lamb chunks. Then layer potatoes, then onions, then carrots over the lamb. Repeat the process until all ingredients are used. Season with salt, pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, and two or three sprigs (or one teaspoon dried) thyme. Pour over stew 20 oz. (British pint) or to nearly cover, chicken stock or veal stock, or water.


Bring stew to boil on top of stove. Skim off foam. Transfer to 325° F oven and cook for two hours, or until meat is tender. Check part way through cooking and top up with more stock if necessary. Irish stew is best made the day before serving. Skim of any congealed fat.


May I suggest fixing an Irish stew and soda bread (easy to make, and requires no yeast) this March 17th?  Get out the fiddle. Pick up a few Guinness and a bottle of Irish whiskey. Invite a few folks to drop by. Shuck a dozen or more briny bi-valves (oysters and Guinness are a saintly match) and round out the festivities with a wedge of Dubliner Cheddar—for an evening of good fun. Here’s to St. Patrick. God bless him!


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