As I moved to Ireland I wanted to try a typical Irish dish for my Easter dinner. The quintessential Irish dish -Irish stew can provoke heated discussion among people in Ireland about its ingredients. They do vary a lot from recipe to recipe, but all are agreed that the meat is always lamb or mutton or beef and there must be onions and potatoes.
Stew isn’t an Irish invention. This dish has a long history. Stew was being made since prehistoric times. Herodotus says that the Scythians (8th to 4th centuries BC) cooked a dish which resembled modern stew. There are recipes for lamb stews and fish stews in the Roman Apicius cookery book, believed to date from the 4th century. Le Viandier, one of the oldest cookbooks in French, written by the French chef known as Taillevent described ragouts or stews of various types.
The first written reference to 'Irish stew' is in Byron's 'Devil's Drive' (1814): "The Devil ... dined on ... a rebel or so in an Irish stew."
There are many kinds of stew in the world and every recipe has some common characteristics. It is one-pot meal and it is made with water, meat and vegetables and boiled long time. So Polish Bigos is a type of stew! But I needed Irish dish and I found a good recipe. I cooked Irish stew according to my Irish cookbook, recipe below.
½ kg of mutton chopped in pieces
2 onions, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
4 potatoes cut in cub
1 tbsp. of pearl barley
1 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp. of plain flour
3 tbsp of melted butter
1,5 l. of beef stock
1 tbsp of parsley
1 tbsp of salt, ground black pepper
Season the flour with half the salt and pepper mix. Cut excess fat of the mutton pieces. Fry fat pieces in a dish until their fat is released. Discard the fat pieces, then brown the mutton in the liquid fat. Set meat aside, leaving a quarter of it in the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of onion slices over the meat in the dish. Follow this with a layer of carrots, then a layer of leeks. Season, then add one layer of potatoes and another layer of meat. Continue layers and seasoning. Sprinkle last layer of meat with thyme. Add the parsley, pearl barley and the stock, then finish off with a layer of potatoes.
Pour melted butter over the top layer. Replace on stove, bring to a simmer, then skim off any scum. Bring to the boil, then cover the dish with its lid. Boil for 3 minutes, then turn down and simmer for around 2 hours until cooked. Serve warm.