Sunday, March 18, 2012

Guinness Irish Lamb Stew & Irish Brown Soda Bread

I seriously doubt that there's any Irish D.N.A. on my German-Mexican family tree.  However, my trip to Ireland (much too long ago) remains one of my most memorable trips.  I fell in-love with the beauty of the Emerald Isle, the friendliness of the people-- and, of course, the food. For that reason, I'm happy to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by making some of my favorite recipes of either Shepherd's Pie or Corned Beef and Cabbage. 

My son and I love lamb, and I am slowing converting my husband's lackluster opinion of it over to our side.  This St. Patrick's Day, on the Monterey Peninsula, brought us a long overdue rainstorm with intermittent hail showers.  We were having friends over for dinner, and a hearty stew seemed the perfect dish.  One of our family recipes is my Beef Stew recipe, but I wanted to keep with the Irish theme.   The Whole Foods meat counter was busy packaging corned beef, but I asked for a boneless lamb shoulder roast.

$24.00 might seem a little pricey, but this is New Zealand lamb and my friends are worth it. I didn't have a recipe to work from, so I decided to adapt a little from my beef stew and pot roast recipe.  Instead of using red wine, I opted to use Guinness beer-- of course!

While listening to an audio book, I patted the lamb dry and then patiently cut the roast into bite-sized pieces--then seasoned it with salt & pepper.  

I added about 1/4 cup of flour and dredged the meat well until evenly coated with the flour.  Using a very light coating of olive oil, I heated my trusty Dutch Oven to very high heat and added just enough lamb pieces so as not to crowed them.

Seared meat is a beautiful sight, don't you think? That beautiful golden crust is going to give my sauce  a lot of flavor.

It took three batches of about 8-10 minutes, each, to create this lovely pile of lamb.  

A stew needs vegeables, of course.  I love potatoes, so I peeled four Russett potatoes, washed four carrots and peeled four yellow onions, and cut them in half.  I'm not a fan of cooked celery, but I set aside (and didn't photograph) 4 stalks of celery with their leafy greens still attached. I prefer to add the celery, whole, to flavor the broth and then I toss it aside.

For years, I used to toss my vegetables into my stews "raw".  I've had a change of heart, by taking a little extra time to caramelize the vegetables in a little of the fat or olive oil.  I think it adds more flavor.

It takes about 3-5 minutes to caramelize the vegetables on medium-high heat, then remove them.  Now that the pan is empty, and full of that dark crust, it's time to deglaze the pan with liquid-- in this case, I used a 14 oz. can of Guinness Stout beer on very high heat. Scrape all the flavor off!

I find that tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce adds so much flavor to stews.  This prep time has taken about an hour, but the rest of the cooking will happen on it's own.  Now, for the final steps:

Add the cooked vegetables and seared lamb back into the pot.  I made my own beef stock, a few days ago (will post that recipe soon) so that's why it's light in color and looks like chicken stock.  Boxed beef stock will do, too.  Add 6 cups of beef stock (or enough to just cover the meat and vegetables). Bring the stew to a boil, covered. Then reduce to a low simmer, and let is cook for about 3 hours.  Yes, you can finish this off in a slow cooker or even pressure cook it for about 45 minutes.  On a rainy day, though, I love the smell of dinner wafting throughout the kitchen.

I read, somewhere, that authentic Irish Stew has barley in it.  While the stew was simmering, I cooked 1 cup of pearl barley to a half and half blend of 3 cups water and chicken stock.  

My company arrived, and so I didn't take photos of the stew just as it finished it's 3 hours on the stove.  I did, however, taste the stew and then added salt until it had just the right seasoning. NOTE: When I make chicken or beef stock, I don't add salt.   

 
Finishing the stew:  I like a thick gravy-like consistency to my stews.  To accomplish this, I take about 4 tablespoons cornstarch and whisk in 4 Tablespoons of water until smooth and lump-free.  On medium-high heat, I carefully add about half of that mixture and wait for a minute or two.  I add more cornstarch mixture until the thickness I want is achieved.

For the optional barley:  I debated if potatoes and barley made sense-- two starches together?  So, I poured half the stew into a smaller pot and added the barley.  I loved it, and the barley thickens the stew-- so I'm glad that I didn't too much cornstarch mixture. NOTE: I only used about 2 cups of cook barley, so the rest will become a barley salad.


Guinness Irish Lamb Stew and...

Slightly sweet, delicious and warm, Irish Soda Bread...

(not pictured) A glass of cold Irish Harp Beer.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

TASTING NOTES:  For those of you who aren't fond of lamb, because it tastes very strong-- believe me, the lamb was not only buttery tender, but mild.  I only wish I had invested in a couple more pounds of meat, because I loved it.  My husband has been won over by this dish.  Everyone had second helpings.  I'm a convert to using Guinness in recipes, as it doesn't leave a "beer" taste.  Instead, it adds a depth of flavor that is subtle, yet flavorful.  This recipe makes a lot, and I'm so glad. This morning, it's raining and hailing and I plan to have it for lunch...again.   You don't have to wait for the luck o' the Irish to make this.  Keeper recipe, if I do say so myself-- and one of my own creation. Yay!


 


                       




                       
                       

                       
  
  

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22 comments:

Valerie said...

The former vegetarian in me hates to admit it, but I love lamb! Your stew looks so hearty and scrumptious, I wish I could run over and have a helping. :-D

All Things Yummy said...

I love it when a recipe is so good you can't wait to have it for leftovers the next day.

bellini said...

This is definitely worthy of a special meal Debbie.

Joanne said...

I tend to love guinness in savory recipes also, especially comfort food like this! It adds a little summin summin :P

Deb in Hawaii said...

This looks so hearty and very good. It's fun when a recipe you create works out so well.

Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays. ;-)

Salsa Verde said...

LOVE IT!!!
I love irish stew and I'm crazy about soda bread so, perfect meal for me!!
Cheers,
LIa.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I too, had a memorable trip in Ireland. (You would appreciate this one - SPP and I did a horseback tour!) You look like you had a lot of fun devising that stew recipe (I LOVE LAMB), but your brown bread brought back the real memories. I must have eaten a half a loaf at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Best bread ever spread with that rich Irish butter.

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

This looks like SUCH a delicious stew - so full of goodness and flavor - fantastic!
Mary x

Donalyn said...

Hi Debby - thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for your kind comments. It is always great to pick up a new fan, isn't it? :) Your blog is equally lovely, and I will be back! Are you registered on my other site, DessertStalking.com? You should - your photography is very nice!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I haven't made a pot of stew in ages and now I'm craving it. I always use red wine but am eager to try the Guinness instead, and the addition of barley...delicious! Your home must have smelled wonderful as this simmered on the stove.

Karen said...

Oh, I just love lamb... and stew... so this is a perfect combination for me. It looks so rich... just right for a rainy day!

Velva said...

You know how to make the irish happy! This was one rocking stew. The flavors were jumping out of these photos.

Velva

Duxa said...

Hi Debby, I really enjoyed finding your blog, I am fascinated with the recipes.
Hugs from Portugal:)

Penny said...

Debby, This is the perfect St. Patrick's Day Menu. Cudos to you and I am copying the two recipes.

Christine said...

Oh, this is right up my alley! Love lamb, stew and barley. I've always used red wine, so haven't tried Guinness in a stew...I think it's a must next time!

mr. pineapple man said...

What a meal! Would have loved to join you :)

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a perfect Saint Patrick's Day menu Debbie. Happy belated St. Patty's day. I have a sister-in-law that's Irish and I'm going to forward this to her.
Sam

Creations By Cindy said...

Ooh, don't know what looks the best...the stew or the bread! YUMMY! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I'm sure your guests appreciated this delicious looking stew. I bet everyone wanted seconds.

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Oh my goodness! This stew looks fabulous! I spent a few years in a Scottish boarding school when I was young and they fed us mutton. I can't seem to get beyond that taste! But I would LOVE to make this with a chuck roast. It is beautiful and full of big bold flavors and lots of hearty ingredients!
Thanks for bringing this yummy Irish stew to ON THE MENU MONDAY!
Yvonne

beti said...

I can't believe how good this looks, really delicious and comforting

Bill said...

I've been craving lamb and this is the perfect recipe! This stew really looks delicious. I've always wanted to make soda bread and I'm sure it goes wonderfully with the stew. Definitely trying this on!!