Hurrah for An Irish Stew
What’s All the Stew About?
There are many adherents to Irish Stew, but not all agree on what the national dish of the Emerald Isle should include. Traditionally, it was an economical meal made with the cheapest and simplest ingredients, usually meat and potatoes. The meat was most often mutton—an old sheep—tough as whit leather and needing a lot of long, slow cooking.
Today it’s not unusual to see beef stew, as well as the customary lamb variety, offered in the pubs of Ireland and elsewhere. The lamb version usually has a clear broth while the beef stew is creamier. In some instances carrots, peas, turnips, cabbage, barley, and/or garlic join the broth, along with a glug or two of Guinness. The addition of stout gives the stew a smokey flavor. Martha Stewart has taken the liberty of adding 10 cloves of garlic to her recipe!
In researching his cookbook, “The Country Cooking of Ireland,” Colman Andrews found no two stews quite alike. So, I’m thinking we should all quit stewing over authenticity and enjoy the one of our choice. On one point, most all agree. Stew is best made ahead and allowed to blend well in the refrigerator before serving. That works well for me to make ahead for the weekend at the farm. I will serve that along with a salad—a green one, as befits the occasion—and my favorite green basil vinaigrette. That should be a perfect holiday meal.
So “Hurrah for a good Irish stew, that sticks to your belly like glue.”