"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recipes: Irish Stew With Winter Vegetables

I have always liked and prepared Boeuf Bourguignon.  It is rich and flavorful, and the combination of red wine, sweet carrots and onions, and Mediterranean spices makes for a perfectly balanced dish.

My Irish stew, not that different from the original, is more like a Boeuf Bourguignon, especially because of the red wine and the garlic; but true to the original I add winter vegetables like turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas.  I limit the spice to thyme, a flavoring that traditionally goes will with lamb. The recipe takes a bit of work – lots of chopping and braising – but it is not complicated, very difficult to mess up, and well worth the effort.

The cut of lamb used is the blade chop or shoulder, and therefore no where near as expensive as the leg of lamb or loin chops. The cuts used for this recipe give plenty of flavor. The trick to this recipe – like for Boeuf Bourguignon is braising.  It is important to get the meat chunks nice and brown, for this will give the distinctive taste to the gravy and the dish itself.

Irish Stew with Winter Vegetables

* 3 lbs. blade chop lamb (or 1 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder)

* 1 lg. turnip, quartered

* 1 lg. rutabaga, quartered

* 1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into 3” pieces

* 5-6 lg. cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

* 1 lg. spring parsley

* 2 bay leaves

* 5 lg.  carrots, cut into 2” pieces

* 1 lg. onion, quartered

* 4 cups red wine (ordinary table wine will do)

* 1 Tbsp. dry thyme leaves

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

- Trim most of the fat off the meat, and discard the bones

- Cut into 2” cubes or pieces

- Braise the meat in the olive oil over very high heat, turning frequently until the meat begins to brown

- Put in the garlic and thyme and stir well

- Cook for another 5-8 minutes until the meat is well-browned. Stir to be sure the garlic does not blacken.

- Pour in the wine and enough water to cover the meat

- Let simmer for about 1 1/2 hrs. or until the meat is very tender and a fork will go easily into it

- Put all the vegetables into the pot with the meat, stir well and cook over low heat for approximately 1 hr.  The vegetables should be tender – not mushy, but soft

- Adjust for salt, add ground pepper, and SERVE

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