Friday, 9 November 2012

Irish Stew

It's not St Patricks Day, but when I found this recipe I just had to try it. I have only ever had Irish stew from a tin before (gag) so was eager to try the real thing. We are not big lamb eaters, but I will buy it occasionally. I find it quite expensive when you are feeding a family, but this recipe uses cheap cuts (scrag end or neck fillets are perfect). Its slow cooker so the meat becomes really tender. With pearl barely added, its a hearty meal! I was stuffed after one bowlful. This recipe made plenty, there were some leftovers for my lunch with a hunk of crusty bread & butter. This recipe tastes even better the next day, so if you can, cook it a day early & reheat when you need it - its worth it!

1 tbsp olive oil
125g smoked streaky bacon cut into chunks
500g stewing lamb , cut into large chunks
3 medium onions , sliced
3 carrots , sliced into chunks
2 bay leaves
small bunch thyme
75g pearl barley
500ml lamb stock
6 medium potatoes , cut into chunks

 Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.
 Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. You could also tip into a slow cooker & cook on low for 4 hours.

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