St Patrick’s Day is a day to really celebrate. And when cooking what better way to celebrate than with that pefect Irish dish, the Irish Stew. Here is my versions and I have also shared a beautiful Apple Tart recipe. I hope you have a great St Patrick’s Day and enjoy it with friends, family and lots of good food.
I never tire of a bowl of steaming hot Irish stew, but it’s the attention to detail that makes this dish one of the world’s great classics. This is my version, which I have developed over the years.
Some people say you shouldn’t use carrots, but this began as one of my
mother’s recipes and I’m still putting carrots in!
Ask your local craft butcher for some neck or shoulder cuts. If you
make it the day before and warm it up, your meal will be more tender. We serve a small portion of this stew in the restaurant in a dish featuring 4 versions of cooked lamb.
900g (2lb) boneless lamb neck, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 litre (1 ¾ pints) chicken stock (page 226)
50g (2oz) pearl barley, washed
225g (8oz) potatoes, cut into chunks
225g (8oz) carrots, thickly sliced
225g (8oz) leeks, well trimmed and thickly sliced
225g (8oz) baby pearl onions or small shallots, peeled
2 fresh thyme sprigs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
colcannon, to serve
Place the lamb in a large, heavy-based pan and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum from the surface and stir in the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes,
until slightly reduced and the lamb is almost tender.
Add the potatoes to the lamb with the carrots, leeks, baby pearl onions and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lamb and vegetables are completely tender but still holding their
shape. Season to taste.
To serve, transfer the stew into a warmed casserole dish and scatter over the parsley. Have a dish of colcannon alongside and allow everyone to help themselves.
Apple Tart with Custard
Homemade apple tart – a winning combination of delicate sweet pastry filled with heavenly scented apples – simply can’t be beaten. To ring in the changes, mix the
apples with blackberries or try a mixture of rhubarb and strawberry. To make your tart extra special, add a vanilla pod to your bag of sugar and leave for at least a week before using.
225g (8oz) plain flour, extra for dusting
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g (4oz) butter, diced and chilled
2 large egg yolks
2–3 tablespoons ice-cold water
900g (2lb) Bramley cooking apples
100g (4oz) caster sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of ground cloves
1 tbsp milk
5 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
½ vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
300ml (½ pint) milk
100ml (3 ½fl oz) cream
To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Using a round-bladed knife or the tips of your fingers, work in the butter and then mix in the egg yolks with enough of the ice-cold water, until the dough just comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Lightly dust the work surface
Divide the pastry into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other, then roll out the larger piece until it’s about 30cm (12in) in diameter. Use to line a 20cm (8in) pie dish or a 23cm (9in) flat plate, gently pressing into the corners. Trim the edges with a knife and reserve the excess for decorating. Place back in the fridge to chill while you prepare the apples.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Place in a large bowl with all but 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar. Add the cinnamon and cloves and mix together. Brush the edge of the pastry with a little milk and then pile the apples into the lined pie dish. Roll out the second piece of pastry into a circle slightly larger than the pie dish and use to cover the apples. Press the edges together to seal, then use a sharp knife to cut away any excess.
Crimp the edges of the tart with a round-bladed knife and using your fingers as a guide. Roll out the pastry scraps and cut into leaf shapes. Brush the shapes with milk and stick on top of the pie. Brush the entire top of the pastry with milk and sprinkle over the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 25–30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4) and bake for another 20–25 minutes, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, to make the custard, place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until pale and thickened.
Place the milk and cream in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Gradually whisk the heated milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat. Cook gently for 6–8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Keep warm.
To serve, cut the warm apple tart into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the custard. Put the remainder into a jug on the table.