St. Patrick’s Day

I wasn’t going to write a post for St. Patrick’s Day:  I have written about Irish food quite a lot recently and don’t want to seem like a one-trick-pony, but I feel compelled to commit pen to paper – or indeed fingers to keyboard.

I spend lots of time reading about food and visiting foody websites and other blogs and have become a little worn down by the idea that adding green food colouring makes a food Irish.  Where did this idea start?  I have seen photos of green mash, green bread and green pastry – MacDonald’s even make a minty green “Shamrock Shake”.  Now I’m not averse to a pretty little cup cake with shamrock icing but you can take a thing too far.

In retaliation I am making Irish Stew for tea.  This is great, tasty, simple food rather than a “theme park Ireland” gimmick and I am going to really enjoy it.

I might have to enjoy it with a Guinness though…

Irish Stew Recipe

Irish Stew

This recipe uses neck of lamb which is a really tasty cheap cut but it needs long slow cooking.  Your stock also needs lots of flavour so make your own if you can – a stock cube really doesn’t do it.  I like to leave the potatoes in big chunks and maybe mash them into the gravy (which is quite thin) with my fork if we don’t have guests.  Alternatively you can slice them more thinly and they will thicken the gravy as it cooks. If you use a mix of floury and waxy potatoes you will get the best of both worlds.

Serve with a dark, iron rich vegetable such as spring cabbage or cavolo nero.

Serves 6


1kg of boned neck of lamb

1 litre Stock

1kg Potatoes

1kg Carrots

2 onions

A few sprigs of fresh thyme


Cut the lamb into large chunks.

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.

Peel the carrots and cut into slightly smaller pieces.

Slice the onions.

Brown the lamb in a large frying pan in a tablespoon of oil – don’t overcrowd the pan.

Put the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until needed.

Remove the meat from the frying pan and set aside. Lightly brown the onions in the frying pan (there’s no need to clean it first).

Now Either:

Add the lamb, carrots, onions and a few sprigs of thyme to the pan of stock, cover tightly and stew over as low a heat as possible until the potatoes and carrots are cooked and the meat is tender (approximately 1 hour).


Put the lamb, carrots and onions into a large casserole dish.  Tuck in a few sprigs of thyme.

Arrange the potatoes on top and pour over the stock until just the tops of the potatoes are visible.  Cover tightly with a lid and cook in a low oven (150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2) for 2 hours.

You could also make this in a slow cooker.