To be honest, dear readers, I’m a little nervous about this one.
You see, Irish Stew is one of those things where everybody has a particular favourite method. Some favour beef over lamb, some like minced meat, others like chunks. And don’t even start me on the consistency debate.
This is how I like to do my Irish Stew, all the vegetable cooked until tender but still in chunks, pieces of lamb and a delicately spiced stock.
I start by making my stock. Warning, the following images may upset vegetarians, because I start by getting myself a hulking lamb shank.
After I have marvelled at its pink meaty-ness, I separate the bone from the meat, removing any gristle from the meat and chopping it into small chunks.
You can, of course, ask the butcher to do this for you, but where is the fun in that?
Set the chunks of meat aside, and put the bone in a large saucepan.
Its time to add some flavour to the stock, with these vegetables…
Celery, carrot and a leek or onion. I tend to get a lot of leeks in the old veg box at this time of year, so that what I used this time.
These get chopped into large pieces and added to the stock pot with lots of water and some spices; bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon.
Bring this pot to the boil..
The turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for as long as humanly possible. I usually aim for a couple of hours.
Now, we are going to prepare the meat. We need plain flour, salt, and freshly ground pepper…
Toss the meaty chunks in the seasoned flour…
And then fry the whole lot in some oil until browned.
Then its time to prepare the vegetables (although I usually do this while the stock is bubbling. Queen of multitasking, me.)
Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks…
And do something similar with the carrots…
Peel and slice the onion into slices the thickness of a pound coin…
And add these to the meat.
Then, you drain the stock into this pan too. The leftovers look pretty, don’t they?
I add some Worcester sauce, then cover the pan and put into a hottish oven for at least two hours. You are more than welcome to reduce the lovely liquid down a bit on the hob afterwards if you like it a bit more ‘solid’.
Serves 4. Cooking time 4 hours 30 minutes (although very little of this actually spent ‘cooking’)
1 lamb shank
2 celery sticks
3 large carrots
2 bay leaves
1 large stick cinnamon
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp salt
Few grinds from the pepper mill
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
1. Prepare the lamb. Separate the meat from the bone and cut the meat into medium-sized chunks, getting rid of gristle and other nasties as you go. Set these to one side.
2. Slice one of the carrots, both celery sticks and the leek into three or four large pieces.
3. Place the shank bone and the prepared veg into a large saucepan. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
4. Cover with the water, bring to the boil, then cover, turn the heat down and simmer for as long as you can (at least 2 hours).
5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
6. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Toss the meat chunks in this seasoned flour.
7. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large, oven-proof saucepan and brown the floured meat. You may need to do this in batches.
8. Peel and chop the remaining carrots, the potatoes and the onion.
9. Add these to the meat with the drained stock and Worcester sauce.
10. Bring to the boil, cover, then put into the hot oven.
11. Cook for at least two hours.
12. If you like the sauce a little thicket, simply reduce on the hob for a few minutes, until it is the required consistency.