Like all good stews this simple Irish stew is warming, comforting, hearty, cheap and leaves you feeling extremely cheerful.
I will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday along with every other person of Irish descent and ancestry! I have an Irish father….and of course my husband is a full-blown Paddy so we will be sporting our green shirts, having a wee drink and eating this as we attempt to ignore our Welsh neighbours celebrating winning the Rugby 6 Nations (I know that is a little pre-emptive…but its a sea of red round here and expectation is high!)
I’d also recommend mutton, a much overlooked meat it produces a deeper richer flavour when cooked slowly and gently.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1.5k mutton, whole on the bone
500g diced onion
2 sticks of celery
500g peeled chopped carrots
500g peeled sliced potatoes (keep them quite chunky)
Bouquet garni with a couple of bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary and a good sprig of thyme tied together.
Two good handfuls of pearl barley
1 pint lamb or chicken stock or just water.
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat the oil and half the butter in a large pan. When hot add the mutton and brown well. Spoon out and put to one side. Add the rest of the butter, diced celery, carrot and onion and sweat gently for about 10 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and continue cooking for a minute or so. In the pan add a layer of potatoes, then a layer of meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat the layers finishing with a layer of potato.
Throw in the barley then pour over the stock or water. Slap on a lid and allow it to cook gently for about two and a half hours.
When the meat is very tender and the sauce rich and slightly reduced remove the mutton and place on a chopping board taking care not to lose any sauce. Cut the meat from the bone in hefty chunks and return to the saucepan. Add a good handful of chopped parsley and serve in big bowls.