It always amazes me what a mystique the Irish hold for Americans. Walking down the street on St. Patrick's Day, even the most non-Irish are sporting clover stickers on their cheeks, and those who have a miniscule of Irish heritage claim themselves fully Irish (which seems to be a constant annoyance to those who truly are).
But on the other hand, I sort of get it. Ireland's a beautiful country, the people are stand-up types who are loads of fun, and the food is great. I was reminded of this last point when I came across a beautiful post on the blog Goldilocks Finds Manhattan about Irish lamb stew. This is a most charming blog written by an Icelandic woman named Ulla. As a photographer, her images are of course beautiful, and I was utterly captivated by the photo of her stew. It was bright, colorful, and just somehow looked satisfying, but quite healthy at the same time.
I absolutely had to give it a try...oh what success! I tweaked it a bit, and it was lovely. Perfect for my Sunday dinner with Zenia. The potatoes cooked long enough to thicken the sauce, the lamb was tender, and the vegetables and herbs lent a lightness to the whole thing. Sadly though, the dish was halfway eaten before I could take a decent photo.
Irish Lamb Stew
Adapted from Ulla from Goldilocks Finds Manhattan's adaptation of Darina Allen's Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes From Ireland's Heritage
2 pounds lamb shoulder chops
salt and pepper
2 small onions, diced
5 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold or similar type), cut into one inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chives, diced
1/4 cup parseley
Trim fat from chops, remove meat from bones, and cut into one-inch pieces. Alternatively, have your butcher do this, but be sure he reserves the bones for you.
Salt and pepper reserved bones, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes in heavy bottomed, oven proof pot (preferably a Dutch oven).
Remove bones from oven, and put pot, with bones in it, on stovetop. Add ten cups of cold water to pot and simmer over low heat for one hour, topping up with cold water if the level of the liquid gets too low. Reserve stock, discard bones.
Season the cut up meat with salt and pepper. In pot used to make the stock, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary. Once browned, set meat aside in a dish.
If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pot. Saute onion until translucent, then add lamb, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot, as well as potatoes. Add lamb stock, and if stock does not cover the contents of the pot, top up with water. Simmer for thirty minutes.
Taste, and season with salt if necessary. Add carrots, thyme and chives and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste, season if necessary, stir in parsley and serve.