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Tastes of home part 9 - Irish Stew

By September 29, 2017 , , ,

Now I have to confess I absolutely hated this dish growing up. The mere mention of it would strike fear into my very heart. It didn’t matter who made it, my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, it was still the same fatty, gloopy, chewy mess which didn’t taste of anything much other than lamb fat. The women of my family came from the school of cooking that stated you boil everything within an inch of its life and they certainly did that with this dish. The family recipe just seemed to consist of meat and veg thrown in a pot with water, no aromatics, no seasoning, no stock.

Years later I decided to face my fear head on and make this recipe myself. I thought my family recipe can be improved on, for one, it needs to be slow cooked with aromatics and stock rather than aggressively boiled for an hour in just water. This gives you tender meat and allows the flavours to evolve. I also use lamb neck rather than chump chops as it has a good balance of fat and muscle and lends itself well to slow cooking. You’ll also notice that I’ve put wine and dillisk in, while it’s not the traditional way of doing things, it adds a bit more depth of flavour. 

I also cooked this on the Big Green Egg using their new round Dutch Oven, I must admit it did make all the difference in flavour. Traditionally this would have been cooked on an open fire in a cast iron pot, so I guess I kinda took the recipe back to basics. I was impressed with the Dutch Oven capabilities, it retained the heat really well and I could also cook in direct heat (up to 232c) rather than indirect as I have done with other cast iron pots.


I like to start this recipe a day earlier and then let it it cool overnight. The excess fat from the lamb then settles on the top and can be removed easier this way

300g lamb shoulder or neck sliced into 1 inch chunks
1 onion finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 Leek finely chopped
150ml white wine
300ml chicken or lamb stock
Bouquet garni with thyme, rosemary and bay leaf

10g dillisk finely chopped
10ml oil for frying
4 potatoes peeled and quartered or small salad potatoes left whole

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the onions, leek, carrot and celery into a heavy based or cast iron pan with the oil and fry on a low heat until all ingredients are softened
Remove the veg to a plate and turning up the heat, fry off the lamb, ensuring you brown the pieces on all sides
Add the veg back to the pan and add the wine, stir the veg and meat and cook on a high heat for 1-2 mins
Lower the heat and add the stock, dillisk and herbs

If cooking on the BBQ, I cooked this on my cast iron griddle on direct heat at 150c
Place a lid on the pan and cook on a low heat on your stove top or in a low oven at 140c (fan), 150c (normal) for 2 hours
Add the potatoes and cook for another hour

Season to taste before serving

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