Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, which for most, whether one is of Irish descent or not, is celebrated with fervor. Green beers, shots of Jameson, parades! I mean, it’s hard to have a bad time (unless those Jamo shots come sneaking up on you later). Eating on St. Patrick’s Day is also a highlight (and necessary prior, during and after all that alcohol consumption!) and if there is one good thing about Irish fare it’s that it’s hearty! Comfort food, the good stuff that gives you a hug from the inside and leaves you feeling full and satisfied in a way beyond what simply eating because it tastes good can accomplish. I love it. Simple, rib-sticking pleasure from the likes of corned beef, meltingly tender slow-braised cabbage, lamb, potatoes, sausages, etc.
So, yesterday I couldn’t help but jump on the bandwagon (paddywagon? oh, that is just a bad pun waiting to happen) and celebrate proper with many pints of Guinness and a simple, perfect lamb and Guinness stew. Lamb braised until it falls apart in your mouth, sweet carrots, soft potatoes and earthy turnips enveloped by rich, beefy, stouty gravy and, of course, cooked from the heart, mmm! Nothing better!
For texture and to add a little sweetness, I made some sweet and sour red onions to sit atop this stew but eating it just as it is is perfectly delicious as well. Mopping up all those unctious juices with a thick slice of caraway rye ain’t bad either!!
Lamb and Guinness Stew with Sweet and Sour Red Onions
- 2-3 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1/2 pound applewood smoked bacon, preferably thick cut, cut into lardons
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2-1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 15 oz Guinness, I love buying the pub cans that have that awesome nitrous widget that squeals when ya crack it open!
- 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
- 2 bay leaves
- fresh mint and parsley, for garnish
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- good caraway rye bread, toasted for serving
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
In a large heavy bottomed pot, add the bacon lardons and cook until their fat has rendered and they have turned golden brown and crisped up. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Season your lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge each lamb cube in flour and working in batches, sear in the hot bacon fat until golden brown and crispy on all sides. Remove lamb to a clean plate and set aside.
Add the sliced red onion and smashed garlic to the pot and let sweat and pick up all the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Deglaze the pot with the water. Add the lamb back to the pot along with the beef stock, Guinness, bay leaves and spices. Put a lid on the pot and braise in the oven for two hours.
When two hours have passed, retrieve pot from the oven and stir in potatoes, carrots and turnips. Place back into the oven for another 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the meat is easily shredded with a fork. Stir the bacon back into the stew or if you choose you can use the bacon as a crunchy garnish.
Ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of sweet and sour onions and sprinkle with plenty of fresh chopped mint and parsley and a crack of black pepper. Either dip your toasted bread into the stew to soak up all the heavenly juices or you can make rye croutons and eat them along with all the goodies. Enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Red Onions
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
- glug of olive oil
Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and the sugar. Sweat for 2-3 minutes until the onions have softened significantly and turned translucent, but are not browning. Add the honey, vinegar and worcestershire sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes until the liquid has reduced and glazed the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The sweet and sour onions are so versatile! In this instance, they are adding some brightness and texture to a long cooked, hearty stew but they can be used in a salad, on a sandwich, atop a frittata, garnish for a vegetable tart, whatever you feel!