The sound of this stew makes me wish I were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. But we can certainly do so here with this rich, stick-to-your-ribs recipe that is so much more authentic than corned beef and cabbage.
Irish Lamb Stew With Guinness Stout
1 cup pearl barley (optional, see note)
3 (3-inch) stems fresh rosemary
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
3 pounds lamb shoulder with a little fat, cubed
1/2 cup flour
Salt, to taste, divided
Oil for browning meat
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
6 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into large dice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces Guinness stout
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 quarts lamb or beef stock, or as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Note: For a real Irish country touch, include the barley. Cook it for 20 minutes in 3 cups of lamb or beef stock, then add when you return the meat to pot with the vegetables.
Cut off some of the parsley leaves and chop enough to make 2 tablespoons and reserve. Cut off the rest of the parsley stems and tie them into a bundle with the rosemary and thyme. Reserve.
Season the meat with salt and brown the meat in a little oil. Remove and reserve, and sprinkle with a little flour, shaking off excess. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pan and sauté, tossing to coat with the fat. Add the Guinness and deglaze, scraping up any caramelized meat juices. Add the potatoes; return the meat to the pot (and the cooked barley if you’re using it). Add enough stock to barely cover. Add the bundle of herbs. Cook over medium heat until just boiling, then reduce heat to very low and simmer 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
Check seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat. Take out the bundle of herbs and discard. Stir in chopped parsley and the cornstarch (mixed into 4 teaspoons water) and stir. Cook over low heat for a few more minutes to thicken. Serve with plenty of Irish brown or white soda bread, tea and more Guinness if you like.
Makes 6-8 generous servings.