Thursday, 24 November 2011
Irish Stew: Simple, Rustic and Delicious
Irish stew is a fabulous one pot recipe which consists chiefly of a simple combination of lamb chops and root vegetables. It is incredibly easy to prepare and delicious beyond belief. There is very little hands on cooking involved and it is mostly a case of getting the right ingredients in to the pot and knowing for how long to cook them.
This recipe is a little unusual in that it is designed for three people. How often do you see recipes for three published online or included in cookbooks? It is also unusual in that I had to make it in a friend's kitchen, using all his utensils and cooking equipment. Just as well he was on hand to tell me where knives and other utensils were kept or total disaster could have ensued! The reason was simply that three of us were meeting up to sort out some fishing tackle and tie up some lures for a trip this weekend and I got the job of firstly cooking us a meal...
9 lamb chops (loin chops, bone in)
4 medium carrots
2 large white onions
6 medium to large white potatoes
2 pints of fresh lamb stock (chicken stock if lamb is unavailable)
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 sprig of fresh mint (around a dozen medium leaves), plus three small sprigs to garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
This Irish stew was made in a cast iron cooking pot, which not only reduces the cooking time, it seems to lock the flavours in to the dish. If you do not have such a pot and do like making stews, it is likely you would find this a wonderful purchase, sure to last you a great many years if not in fact a lifetime. The featured items below will give you a few ideas as to what is available.
Put your oven on to preheat to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.
Top, tail and scrape your carrots. Peel your onions and potatoes. Quarter the onions and chop the carrots and potatoes in to bite sized pieces. Remember it is a rustic dish and also that the vegetables should retain their form and shape when cooked.
Put the butter and the vegetable oil in to the cast iron pot and on to a gentle heat to melt the butter. Lay the chops in the pot and turn up the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb chops by frying them for about three minutes on each side and remove them to a plate.
Add the carrot and onion to the pot and sautee for around four to five minutes. Put the lamb chops back in to the pot and carefully mix them with the carrot and onion.
Pour the lamb stock in to the pot and turn up the heat until it starts to simmer. Lay the potato pieces carefully across the top of the other ingredients but do not stir any further. The potatoes are going to mostly steam on top of the dish. Season again with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on the pot and place it in to the oven for one hour. This should see the potatoes perfectly softened.
Remove the dish from the oven and (being very careful of escaping steam) take the lid off before scattering the roughly torn mint leaves over the top of the potatoes. Replace the lid and leave to rest for fifteen minutes. Ladle on to plates and serve immediately, garnished with the small mint sprigs.