Lamb stew is thought to be the national dish of Ireland since the 18th century. The traditional stew contained only tough cuts of mutton (or mature sheep), onions, and potatoes. It is often a stew made of leftovers, and simmered for hours.
For St. Patty’s day, I made a light version of traditional Irish stew. I choose lean cuts of meat so there is little skimming required and less fat overall. Unfortunately, sheep are not so plentiful in America as they are in Ireland, so it is a bit of a splurge to cook a good quality lamb stew, but it is worth it! I know many Americans are not used to the taste of lamb, or have never tried it, but because of my Middle Eastern culture, I grew up with lamb skewers and love the taste. It can be a bit gamey for first-timers, so it is often cooked with rosemary, garlic, or parsley to balance out the gamey taste. This stew is lamb at its best and is most enjoyed by lamb lovers. If its your first time tasting lamb, try it in a marinade to ease your way into it.
Lamb also contains some amount of unsaturated (omega-3) fatty acids, which are a staple in the Mediterranean diet.
Ingredients (Serves 8)
2 lbs boneless lamb top round or leg steak, trimmed, cut to 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, skin on, halved or quartered
3 large leeks, white part only, halved
3 carrots, cut to 1-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, small chop
1 14-oz can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley for garnish
1 teaspoon oil
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Alternatively, you can chose to simmer the stew on the stovetop.
2. Chop the carrots, celery, leeks, and potatoes and place in medium bowl, set aside. To clean the leeks, fill the sink with cold water, or a large bowl. Then cut the white part of the leek from the tops. Trim the stem. Remove the outer leaf. Score the leek and dunk in cold water. Make sure all grit washes from the leek. Then, slice in halves.
3. In a large pot, brown the trimmed lamb pieces in 1 teaspoon oil on a medium high heat. Cook just until all sides are browned. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any grease. Do in two or three batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
4. Once all meat is browned, set aside lamb, and immediately place all vegetables in hot pot. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until slightly colored. Turn often. When the pot starts getting dry, add 14 ounces chicken broth and about 12 ounces water. Add just enough water to leave a 1/2 inch from the top shoulders of the veggies and lamb. Bring to a gentle simmer.
5. In the meantime, add about 1 cup flour and enough water to moisten in a bowl. Make a rope the length of the lid. Once the stew is simmering, place the lid on and tightly press the dough rope around the lid and pot. This is to prevent liquid from evaporating in the oven.
Alternatively, you can simmer the stew with or without the dough paste.
Simmer for 1 hour or until meat and vegetables are tender.
6. Top with chopped parsley. Serve with Irish soda bread.