Irish Stew (must be St. Patrick’s Day again!)

March 14, 2011

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Time for the cows to come home and crack a few bevies because March is here, which means everybody’s Irish on the 17th! Awesome long-time readers of le Citrus and Candy would know that St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favourite holidays of the year and a regular fixture on my culinary calendar. Because there’s nothing that this robust girl loves more than hearty, manly stews. It’s all about the meat but when brawn meets beer? Ooh baby!

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The humble stew is something I’ve grew with just as much as laksas and one of the first things I learnt to make when I was a wee child. We may have been an ‘Asian’ family but Mother Superior definitely knew how to whip up many a beef stews for the kiddies which we would attack like crazy with baked strips of puff pastry to lovingly soak up the gravy. We loved our Brit food and beef so this was like a special treat for us, usually served on nights when the parentals were going to hit Perth’s Burswood Casino, leaving us in the care of Big Bad Bro. Mean ol’ bastard use to make my sis and I wash all the dishes for him! Sometimes he’d make up for it by bringing out the blankets so we could all play “princess” together, other times, the parents would just come home to a whole lotta tears and tantrums.

Aah memories…

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Anyway, you certainly can’t think of Irish food without thinking of Irish Stew. Oh my gawd, I love this stuff in all shapes and forms but always with a good sloshing of extra stout and a deadly serving of spuds (ummm carbs). As with most stews, following a recipe strictly to a point is totally unnecessary because you can throw in anything you want (except the kitchen sink) and it’ll always cook up beautifully. So take my recipe with a grain of salt because I may or may not have measured 100% accurately (I never do for ye olde stews oops), but rest assured that no matter what you choose to do with it, it’ll turn to a big pot of hearty, meaty goodness.

Final lesson: don’t forget the extra pints of stout to wash it all down with!

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Irish Stew
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 700g beef chuck, diced into 2cm pieces
  2. 700g deboned fatty lamb, diced into 2cm pieces (leg, shoulder or neck)
  3. 1 large leek, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1cm thickness
  4. 8 cloves of garlic
  5. 4 Tbl (1/4 cup) of plain flour
  6. 140g tomato paste
  7. 375ml of Guinness Extra Stout
  8. 1 L of beef or lamb stock (or a combo of the two)
  9. 1.5 Tbl of worcestershire sauce (magical stuff, I add it in everything lol!)
  10. Bouquet Garni – 4 sprigs of rosemary, 6 sprigs of thyme, 3 bay leaves – tied together
  11. 2 large carrots (about 450g), peeled and chopped into 1.5cm pieces
  12. 5-6 large waxy potatoes (about 800g), peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces (soak in cold water if preparing ahead)
  13. 1-2 Tbl sugar (or to taste)
  14. 1-2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
  15. 1 tsp ground black pepper
  16. 1 Tbl freshly chopped parsley to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a casserole pot, heat up some oil, then brown the beef and lamb in small batches until evenly seared all over. Remove and set aside while you brown the rest but keep the beef and lamb separate.
  2. Add another dash of oil in the same pot, then sauté the leeks and garlic until softened.
  3. Add the beef and all the meat juices. Shower over the flour and stir to coat (don’t worry when it starts to look grossly gluggy). Cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the tomato paste, Guinness, stock and worcestershire sauce and stir, making sure to scrape the bottom. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to the lowest, add the fresh herbs and simmer gently for about an hour.
  5. Add the lamb, carrots and potatoes and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour or until the veges are cooked and the meat is tender. Remove the bouquet garni and add the sugar, salt and pepper and season to taste.
  6. Serve immediately (or even better, the next day) with crusty bread and garnish with parsley.
Notes
  1. • Do not trim all the fat off the lamb because this will help keep the meat tender and flavoursome. But make sure to simmer the stew slowly. If you cook it too rapidly it will break down the meat and fat into the stew and make it overly greasy.
  2. • Irish Stew traditionally contains lamb but feel free to substitute with anything you like. The meat is also not normally browned so skip this step if you wish to save time.
  3. • I like using a combination of beef and lamb stock in the stew. I do this by simmering lamb leg bones in a ready made beef stock for about an hour to give it an extra oomph in flavour. But if you only have beef, then that is totally fine too.
  4. • Lamb doesn’t take long to cook and tenderise so that’s why I always add it after the beef. Beef normally takes around 2-2.5 hours depending on the cut and thickness and lamb takes around 45-60 minutes.
  5. • Feel free to change it up or adjust the ingredients and measurements whether it’s changing the stock, meat, veges, or adding more or less sugar, salt or beer (more beer I say!). The beauty of stews is that it’s totally versatile.
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