Make a traditional Irish Stew for St. Patrick's Day. Irish stew is best made the day before, so you can just heat it up when you are ready to eat, no mess or preparations on Paddy's Day itself.
Every family has its own recipe for Irish stew, so you will find a wide range of dishes that all call themselves Irish stew. Experiment, try a few recipes, add and take away whatever ingredients you want. Irish stew is supposed to be a low cost dish, so you should just use the food you have in the house, rather than rush out to buy something that you do not have in a recipe.
Ingredients, but remember-Everything is flexible:
These quantities make a large 6-7 pint pan of stew
2-3lbs Lamb or mutton
Large Mutton or lamb bones, not neck or anything similar, because you want to be able to take them out easily
2-3 lbs Old potatoes
1 Turnip (swede)
4 sticks Celery
1 or 2 Parsnips
LOTS of FRESH parsley (At lease 1 large handful, preferably 2)
Lots of white pepper
2-3 pints water
Make the stew the day before you are to eat it.
Boil up the bones in about 2 pints of water
Use cheap lamb or mutton, fatty is traditional. Neck of lamb is perfect, mutton is perfect, shoulder is good, lamb chops are all right, leg of lamb is too lean, but leg of mutton is perfect. Leg of mutton is probably the best cut to use for intensity of taste.
Slice the raw meat off the bones and put it in the pan with the bones that you put in earlier. Mutton takes about 6 hours to cook on a low heat, lamb will be done in 2 hours. Take the bones after 4 hours and put them to one side.
Peel and cut up all the vegetables EXCEPT THE PARSLEY into chunks about 2 inches long. Cut the potatoes into 1inch chunks. Add the vegetables to the meat and water; bring back to the boil and simmer for 2 hours. Make sure that there is enough stock to cover the meat and vegetables, even at the end of cooking. Add the marrow from the bones to the stew.
Leave the stew to cool down and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Next day, skim off the solid fat from the top of the stew. Heat it up and let it simmer for one more hour. The potatoes might have gone mushy. If they have, you need to be very careful that they do not burn. Reduce the simmering time to 30 minutes if the potatoes are mushy.
Add salt and lots of ground white pepper. For the last 5 minutes of cooking add HALF of the parsley. The stew should have lots of liquid and all the vegetables should be distinguishable.
Serve in deep plates or soup bowls. Chop up the second half of the fresh parsley and serve it in a bowl at the table.
Traditional Irish stew is pale without any herbs except parsley. Do NOT USE stock cubes. When you taste it you will see that it has plenty of taste without them. Add salt to taste.
You can serve it with brown soda bread, but it is very filling on its own.