Jeffs Guinness Irish Stew

March 8th, 2007 by Jeff in Soups

As said in some of my recent articles, it is all about Irish food these last 2-3 weeks. A friend once made a statement about me which still draws agreeing giggles from my family and friends. She said “Little kids have Christmas, and Jeff has St. Patty’s day.”

I suppose she is right because I look forward to it every year more than I do any other holiday. Spring is my favorite season and St. Patty’s day to me is just a celebration that winter is finally gone and better times are ahead. Of course, there is also the beer and food. 🙂

I began looking through my recipes and doing research on traditional authentic Irish foods. I find that there really are not many century old staples as one would think there would be from a country so ancient and steeped in history. Ireland cuisine seems to be very flexible and changes almost from century to century. What someones great grandmother used to cook in Dublin was much different compared to that same persons great great grandmother. Even today you find that current Irish food is changing almost decade to decade.

In preparation for our annual SPD party, I usually try to make up foods that can sit in a warmer or Crockpot for a few hours since the party is casual, and lasts most of the day. This unfortunately is not compatible with many Irish dishes based on the potato. Let’s face it, 90% of the recipes your find from Ireland contain this ingredient.

However, I did stumble upon many interesting recipes for Irish Stew. I made an immediate connection with this because reading them all, I found this to basically be the same thing we ate as kids except my mother used beef instead of lamb (or mutton). An uncle of mine tells me that my maternal heritage comes directly off the boat from the green isle, so maybe this is why I find this recipe so familiar.

After making a couple batches, I decided that it needed a bit of a change especially the way the meat is prepared. For some reason, every recipe I saw either completely omitted flouring the meat, or it floured the meat AFTER it was seared. This was just not doing it for me. Finally I went back to flouring the meat like I do with any stew, and searing it in oil. This made the meat more tender than the potatoes. It was an instant hit with friends and family that I have shared it with while testing.

  • 4 pounds of lamb. Preferably shoulder chops WITH the bone.
  • About 1/2 cup of flour.
  • Salt and Pepper.
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed.
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots, roughly chopped.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced.
  • 2 large yellow onions.
  • 1 sprig each of parsley, thyme, and rosemary, tied together in a bunch.
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed.
  • 2-3 cups of beef broth.
  • Water.
  • 1 can (12-14 oz.) Guinness stout.
  • Vegetable oil.

Prepare the vegetables ahead of time starting with the garlic. After you dice the potatoes, place them in cold water so they do not turn.

In a large seal-able plastic freezer bag, add the flour. Salt and pepper generously.

Take out the meat and cut the meat from the bone and cube the meat into bite size pieces. SAVE the bones in a separate dish.

Add the meat to the plastic bag with the flour and shake well until all the meat is coated.

Add oil to a large sauce pan. The oil should cover the entire bottom of the pan at about an 1/8 of an inch depth. Heat oil to medium high heat.

Take the meat out of the bag shaking off any excess flour and add it in batches to the oil. You do not want to put too much meat in the pan at once. Just one layer with about 1/2 inch separating each piece. Sear both sides, set aside and cook in batches until done. If you used shoulder meat, there should be enough fat in the pan where you will not need to add any more oil, but if the pan gets dry, then add as needed.

Remove all the meat from the pan and add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute. Add the Guinness stout and bring to a quick boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrap the bottom of the pan to get any burnt on bits back into the liquid (deglaze). Add the potatoes (drained), and carrots and beef broth. You can use Lamb broth if your lucky enough to be able to find it near you.

Add the meat back to the pot and then begin adding water until the meat is just covered. Add the herb bunch and caraway to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add about 4-5 of the largest bones you set aside to the soup. This will give it a flavor that will just astonish your taste buds.

Cook until the stew comes JUST to a boil and then reduce the heat to very low. On my stove, this is just one click above the setting labeled “low”. Cover and let cook for about 2 1/2 hours checking from time to time to see if it needs more salt or pepper. If using mutton, let it cook for 3 hours. Remove bones and herb bunch.

At this point, the stew should be pretty thick, but if you want it thicker, add two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch to some water and stir it up (make a slurry). Add to the stew and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Continue this until you have the desired thickness.

I serve mine with fresh soda bread, a recipe I plan on posting soon. Enjoy!

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