St. Patrick would definitely approve of us all having a warming stew waiting for us on our return from the festivities. After all, like parades and pubs, Ireland’s stew can now be found all over the world! While every family has their own unique recipe, they all share that comfort factor and cosy warmth that long cooked ‘meat and veg’ combinations provide. Kilkenny has a long tradition of brewing, and for this recipe we're using the famous local Smithwicks Ale.
For this version, we wanted a meal that could be easily concocted in our delightful round casserole dish, pictured here in the Clover Pattern, which will provide servings for 4 to 6 people.
- 1 tbsp light oil
- 2.5-3lbs (1.4 kg) chunks of good stewing lamb
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal to increase the flavour
- 2 leeks, also thinly sliced
- 3 small potatoes, sliced thinly (I leave on the skin for nutrition, but you are allowed to peel!)
- Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
- Approx. 1 tbsp dried thyme
- Approx. ½ cup of strong flour spread on baking paper or tin foil, seasoned
- 8 fluid ounces Kilkenny’s local ale, Smithwick’s (our local brew)
- 8 fluid ounces lamb stock, or water (in a pinch)
How to Prepare:
Pre-heat your oven to 160 Celsius (320°F) and very lightly oil the inside of your casserole dish.
Roll your chunks of lamb in the seasoned flour, dusting off any extra. Seal them off in oil on top of the stove. To avoid crowding the pan, do this in small batches and remove to the side until all chunks are nicely browned.
Next, throw in the chopped leeks, swirling around in the pan briefly. Turn off the heat and begin to assemble your stew.
I put half of the leeks in, then a layer of lamb, potato slices, plenty of salt, pepper and thyme and then carrots. Keep layering until you nearly reach the top of the pot. For colour, it’s nice to end up with carrots at the top but won’t really matter as far as flavour is concerned. Cover all of this with the ale and the stock. For this size pot, it’s important to not use more than 16 fluid ounces or your gravy will be weak.
Place two sheets of tinfoil on top of the pot and then place the lid snugly over all. Put in your preheated oven and then relax. After at least two hours, check your stew and if all has gone well, uncover and put back for another 20 to 30 minutes, to brown a little.
Stews depend on the quality of their ingredients and long slow cooking. And they are so basic they will accept almost any modification: love jalapeno? Stick them in! Why not, St. Patrick won’t mind a bit.