Archive for December, 2010

Traditional Irish Stew

Irish Lamb Stew

Ok, first of all: “Irish Stew”, in the traditional sense, is never made with beef and it does not involve Guinness! (See here for a delicious Beef & Guinness Stew.) Traditional Irish Stew is the most simple of dishes, consisting of lamb, vegetables, stock and little more. It’s a perfect example of how good quality ingredients can taste amazing when cooked very simply. Some purists might baulk at the idea of putting carrots and thyme in an Irish stew but that’s my version. Give it a try.

I roasted a shoulder of lamb recently and got it together to make an excellent stock from the bones, which I then put in the freezer for later use. Lamb stock has quite a strong flavour and is not as “all-purpose” as chicken or beef stock; it is generally used only in lamb dishes. The stock is well worth the effort and you can use it as a base for this stew. If you don’t have any, just use light chicken stock.

Serve with some soda bread on the side.


  • 12 small lamb chops ( I used loin chops, you could also use an equivalent amount of neck or gigot chops)
  • 10 medium sized potatoes, halved
  • 4 sticks celery, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, washed but unpeeled and quartered
  • 1 litre lamb or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp pearl barley
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Trim some of the excess fat from the chops. Melt the fat in a large cast-iron casserole and add the chops. Fry until golden and reserve. Por the fat out of the casserole and de-glaze with some of the stock.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in the casserole, then top up with water to just cover the meat and veggies. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Cover the casserole, bring to a gentle simmer and leave for 1½ – 2 hours. Check the seasoning and add some chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 4.


  • If treated right, leftovers can be more impressive than the original meal. To the leftovers of this stew I added 500ml of hot vegetable stock and whizzed with a stick blender. I added some frozen peas, broad beans and some chopped flat-leaf parsley. The results were superb.