Friday, March 9, 2012

Crockpot Tuesday: Irish Lamb Stew

Irish Lamb Stew
Rating: 4.5/5

Repost for St. Patrick's.

This is an adaptation from several recipes put together in a way that made sense to me with the ingredients I wanted. For instance, I wanted pearl onions but you can just largely dice regular onions too. I also wanted a bit of spice and so I've got thyme in this version. Normally any recipe from the British Isles is pretty void of spice. If you look at many Irish stew recipes they only have the meat and veggies with beer for flavor. Boring and flat in flavor. Even with this version it still required a good bit of salt at the end to promote the flavors more.

Really good stew recipes, even for the crockpot, require browning the meat first. Browning creates extra flavor and with such a bland recipe, you want to bring as much flavor to bear as possible. I've tossed the lamb in the flour mixture to aid in this browning. Cooked flour also creates some of the thickening agent by releasing the starch from the flour and cooking away the flour flavor. But I still needed some additional roux at the end for more thickening. 

The last flavor element is the bones. Bones always add flavor, especially when they are cut to expose marrow. I cut off as much meat as I could and then tossed the bones into the pot. Remove them before serving and you'll find all that meat you couldn't reach has fallen off the bone. No waste!

Chop the lamb but keep the bones

Irish Lamb Stew
  • 2 pounds shoulder lamb chops, about 1-inch thick, retain bones
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 oz Guinness beer or any dark beer
  • 2 medium new potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 pint pearl onions, peeled 
  • 2 medium parsnips, cubed
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dark roux (instructions follow)
Chop the vegetables and put them into the crockpot.

Floured lamb
Take the lamb off the bone and cut into one inch cubes. Retain the large bones.  In a small bowl, toss together flour, salt, and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat oil until hot. Take the lamb cubes and toss in the flour mixture for a light coating and then put in the hot skillet to brown.  Once nicely browned, pour in the beer to quickly deglaze the pan. Scrape beer, lamb, and scrapings into crockpot. Add bones, beef stock, and thyme. Cook on low for 8 hours. 

When you are about to serve, cook the roux.  Take 3 tablespoons of butter and melt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour and mix into the butter removing any lumps. Cook while constantly stirring until the roux darkens to a chocolate brown. 

To add to the stew, take a large spoonful of broth from the stew and mix into the roux. After it is thoroughly mixed and thinned, pour everything back into the stew and mix to thicken.  Search for and remove the bones. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
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