Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Lamb Stew

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Each year for St. Paddy's Day I try making a traditional Irish* dish. This year I decided that we'd be having lamb stew. We had some wonderful versions of this when we were in Ireland in 2006 and we both missed it. So I purchased a boned leg of lamb from our butcher and off I went. Had to do some at-home butchering myself - there was about 1/4" of fat coating the leg that needed to be removed. There are ways to lean down the recipe (like not frying the lamb in the bacon fat) but, hey, it's a holiday. Enjoy!

* Note: this does NOT include corned beef, which is pretty much an American invention....don't get me wrong, I love corned beef. But facts are facts - the Irish used mutton (LAMB) as their primary meat source - beef and salt were far too expensive for the average Irish household. It wasn't until the 19th century when Americans of Irish descent started making the dish popular - but even then not for holidays as it was considered too "poor" a dish to celebrate with.

Irish Lamb Stew
1 lb thick-cut bacon
3 1/2 lbs lamb meat (leg or shoulder) cut into 1" cubes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
2 large onions, diced
2 cups beef stock
1 tsp sugar
2 cups baby carrots
2 potatoes, scrubed and cut into cubes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine

Fry the bacon in a large skillet, set aside on a paper towel to drain the grease; crumble. Toss lamb cubes in the flour, salt and pepper until well coated. Fry meat in bacon fat until browned.

Add all ingredients to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Separate meat and veggies from broth. Pour broth into fat separator. Add decanted broth to skillet and warm. Mix 1/4 cup cold water with 2 tbsp corn starch. Add to broth in skillet, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Season according to taste. Mix broth back with stew, stirring well. Serve immediately.

Wine pairing: we had this with a wine my sister brought back from South Africa: Blaauwklippen Estates 2005 Barouche Blend

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