A hearty Irish Stew from my Irish Food Trails

On my latest food trail I visited Abbeyleix, Co. Laois where I me Helen Gee of G’s Gourmet Jams. Helen shared a simple yet scrumptious recipe for raspberry jam, which takes less than half an hour to make – perfect for all home chefs. (You can catch the show on RTE One on Wednesday’s at 7:30 or on the RTE Player.)

I also travelled to Bennettsbridge in Kilkenny to meet one of Ireland’s most renowned potters, Nicholas Mosse (pictured below). It was great seeing the master at work on the potters wheel.

My final stop was to Kilkenny City and the Michelin Star Campagne restaurant. Head Chef Gareth Byrne specialises in the Classic French and he made a delicious Chicken Pithivier, an en croute dish.

Back on board the Shannon Princess I cooked a delicious Irish Stew. The recipe is below and I really think you will like it.

(07)Neven's Irish Food Trails, prog five, Wed February 15th.  Neven with potter Nicholas Mosse.jpg

Irish stew

I never tire of a bowl of steaming hot stew. It’s the attention to detail that make this dish one of the world’s great classics. This is my version that I have developed over the years. Of course, it’s a meal in itself, but for a special celebration, try serving it buffet style with steaming hot bowls of turnip mash, colcannon and maybe even some glazed parsnips and carrots and watch your guests’ faces light up!

Serves 6-8

900g (2lb) boneless lamb neck or shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes

900ml (1 ½ pints) lamb or chicken stock (homemade or made up from a stock cube is also fine)

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) pearl onions, peeled

100g (4oz) rindless piece of smoked bacon, diced

2 fresh thyme sprigs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

turnip mash with crispy bacon and onion and colcannon, to serve (optional)

Place the boneless lamb pieces in a large heavy-based pan or flameproof casserole dish 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 gently 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, smoked bacon and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are completely tender but still holding their shape. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the stew into a warmed casserole dish and scatter over the parsley. Have dishes of the turnip mash with crispy bacon and onion and colcannon alongside and allow everyone to help themselves.

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