Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish-ish Stew and Soda Bread

Happy St. Paddy's Day!! I am half Irish, my mother being a descendant of the Donahoe/Griffin clans. I grew up on my grandfather's lap, being lulled to sleep by the sound of Irish folk songs and lullabies. I have a special place in my heart for this holiday, for that reason. Every St. Patrick's day, since being on my own, I have cooked this recipe. At times I put beef in the stew, but usually I use lamb.

This is a tribute to all of you Irish-Americans (and Canadians!) who kept the traditions alive in the new country, to the best of their ability. This stew and soda bread recipe is more likely a melding of the American and Irish traditions. It's warm, flavourful and celebratory, if not truly authentic!


2T olive oil (divided)
2 lbs stewing Lamb (or beef) cut into 1 inch cubes
3T flour
3 cups mushrooms, quartered
4 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 white or red new potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups parsnips, chopped
2T caraway seeds
1 t fresh thyme
1 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1 large can Guinness beer
6-8 cups beef broth
fresh salt and pepper
1/2 cup parsley

  1. Dredge lamb with seasoned flour

  2. Using a large dutch oven, heat 1 T of oil on medium-high heat and fry lamb in batches making sure to brown it well on all sides.

  3. Remove lamb to plate, set aside

  4. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and fry until soft. Add caraway seeds, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

  5. Add lamb back into pot, add beer and scrape all crispy bits off the bottom.

  6. Add stalk and bring to boil

  7. Turn heat to low cover and simmer until meat is tender about 1.5 hours

  8. Add remaining vegetables and continue to simmer for 35 min until soft

  9. When meat has tenderized and stew is of the desired thickness, stir in parsley.

  10. Serve with soda bread.

Irish Soda Bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350° and butter a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and eggs.
Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into the dry ingredients, until mixture resembles coarse sand.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, to form a dough.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and lightly kneed into a 9 inch round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush loaf with buttermilk and using a sharp knife, score an "X" onto the top of the loaf.
Bake until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (35-35 minutes).
Cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving.

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