Irish stew has been around since the 1800s and is heavily rooted in the culinary tradition that relied upon open-fire cooking. Originally a peasant dish, it used the cheapest and most common ingredient available – sheep! Raising sheep was the primary sustenance for the Irish and held huge economic importance. Not only were they a source of food, but they were also used for the production of milk, wool, and cheese. This is why traditional Irish stew is made with either lamb or mutton.
Lamb or mutton neckbones and shanks are the best for adding flavor to your recipe, along with root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and turnips. Although, when the Irish fled to North America because of the potato famine, the recipe began to change. While they no longer had plentiful sheep available to them, they substituted other meats to create their Irish stew. Today, Irish stew is more commonly made with beef.
But on a cold, windy day, there’s nothing better than kicking back with a nice hearty bowl of traditional Irish stew! Want to know how to make your Irish dish the most flavourful? We’ve got you covered with our recipe below!
- 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 cup coarsely chopped leeks chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 cups (or as needed) of boullion or stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Fresh garlic cloves, crushed for even more added flavor (optional)
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Cook the lamb pieces first, stirring gently, until they are evenly browned. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
- Add onions and carrots. Allow them to cook alongside the lamb for a few minutes and then stir in the bouillon or stock.
- Cover the stockpot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a low setting and allow the stew to simmer for a minimum of 1 hour. If you’re using a tougher cut of meat, you may need to let the stew to simmer for a longer period.
- Add potatoes, parsnips, and any other vegetables you’d like. Let the stew simmer for another 15-20 minutes, before adding the leeks and rosemary.
- Continue simmering, uncovered, until the potatoes become tender, but remain whole. Once their cooked, garnish with fresh parsley and you’re ready to serve!
Note: the stew is best served hot with a side of Irish soda bread, and tastes even better paired with a smooth Merlot.