Ireland Goes Green

A strong organic food movement is invading the Irish culinary scene. Here, a recipe from the country's most prized chef.

Yes, Ireland is best known for meat, potatoes and lots of Guinness, but there's an organic food movement brewing in one of Europe's most fertile lands. Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, the country's best-known chef, Darina Allen — author of the recently released book, Irish Traditional Cooking (Kyle Books) and founder of Ballymaloe Cooking School, gives us a healthy take on an Irish classic: The stew. “Irish stew is best in early summer, made with youngish lamb and the new season’s sweet onions and carrots,” she says. “We keep a little bit of fat with the lean to help with nutrient absorption. And cook the meat on the bone, which enhances the flavor.”

Ballymaloe Irish Stew
Serves 4–6
 
Ingredients:
3 lb lamb chops, no less than 1 inch thick
6 medium or 12 baby onions
6 medium or 12 baby carrots
freshly ground pepper and salt
3 ¾ c. lamb stock or chicken stock or water
12 potatoes
Sprig of thyme
Garnish: 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley and 1 tbsp freshly chopped chives

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF 

2. Cut the chops into 2 ounce pieces and trim off some of the excess fat.

3. Set the pieces aside and render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy frying pan (discard the rendered down pieces).

4. Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots, then cut them into large chunks. If the onions are large, cut them small, if they are small they are best left whole.

5. Toss the meat in the hot fat until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole. Season each layer generously with freshly ground pepper and salt. Deglaze the frying pan with lamb or chicken stock and pour into the casserole.

6. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme and bring to the boil on top of the stove. Then cover and transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, about 1–2 hours.

7. When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, degrease and reheat the liquid in a saucepan. Check the seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives and pour it back over the stew. Bring it back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.