Here in Ireland, Irish stew is a basic lamb and potatoes stew and after those two ingredients, anything else will cause an argument. Well, yes to onions, agreed, but carrots and parsnips? Hmmm, well, everyone has their own recipe and here is mine. I like the sweetness of parsnips in it and I have been known to add a leek if it was hanging around the kitchen. Definitely carrots for the colour , but no turnip, too strong a flavor. And I end the debate about whether to thicken the broth, by adding some pearl barley to enrich the stew and to soak up some of the liquid. I have heard of families where the new wife arrives and thickens the stew by adding corn flour, but these marriages are short lived, or so I hear!
Serves 4 on a good day (mine only served 3)
4 lamb gigot or shoulder chops, cut in two
2 onions, peeled and chopped into six pieces
4 or 5 carrots depending on size, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 parsnip, prepared the same way
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half or 12 small ones peeled
1 pint lamb or chicken stock, (cube is fine)
A few springs of fresh or teaspoon of dried thyme
A few sprigs parsley
2 tablespoons of pearl barley
Salt and pepper
I like to take some of the fat off the chops and render this down over a low heat until the fat melts out of it and use this to brown the meat in batches. Then remove the meat to a plate and add the chopped vegetables and turn them over in the pot to get a nice coating of lamb fat.
Add everything but the potatoes and give the pot a good stir. The liquid should come above the vegetables a little, so add more if necessary.