Irish Stew - a Recipe Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Irish Stew - a Recipe

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...Or, 'How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Let Food Cook Itself'.

This meal is one of the grand old favourites of the Irish kitchen. Plain, simple, nourishing and tasty, it has sustained generations for hundreds of years, since the potato became the staple of the diet in Ireland and people decided it isn't at its best when eaten alone. Indeed, it has seen its popularity rise in recent years, and can often be found on the menu of top-quality restaurants (at an appropriate price!)

If you are at all concerned with how to make Irish stew the right way, the important thing to remember is this. There is no right way1. Every book you look in or every Irish person who's ever made it will probably tell you there is though. And Irish Americans? Don't ask!

This recipe should feed four for two days running. Another important fact is that Irish Stew is always at its best on the second day!

List of Ingredients

  • Two lamb shanks
  • Two carrots
  • 3-4 kilograms of potatoes
  • Two onions
  • A parsnip, two if required
  • Some swedes or a turnip


  1. The night before, put the lamb in a big pot of water. Get the water simmering and then keep it on a low heat for about an hour. Lazy? Use minced steak instead. We're not fussy2! This can be left on the hob overnight.

  2. Next day put the heat on low again for an hour or two. Then take the lamb shanks out. They will be so tender the meat will practically fall from the bone. Strip the meat off in bite-sized chunks and put it back in the water3.

  3. Chop and peel the vegetables and add them to the pot. Nothing too big, bite-sized is best.

  4. Skin and add the potatoes. Depending on size, they can be either halved or quartered. Very small ones - eg, plum-sized - can be thrown in whole. Keep adding them until they reach the surface of the water.

  5. Leave on a low heat for about two hours or longer - until required to eat.

This will result in a nice, thick well-blended stew.

If you want you can add any other vegetables you like - mushrooms, a few herbs, just nothing like lettuce. Anything leafy like this will just turn to slime. Many chefs like to serve with HP sauce and lots of crushed black pepper.

In Summary

Throw everything in a pot of water and keep warm for a few hours! The beauty is that though it takes so long to make, most of it is hands-off cooking.

Bon Appetit!

1There are some 'rules' laid down by tradition, however. Potatoes are obligatory, and the meat should be mutton or lamb. Beef is often used these days, much to the dismay of the purist.2See Note 1.3Some people like to pour in a tin of Guinness at this stage. This is far from traditional however, and many feel it is an insult to both the stew and the Guinness. Such people suggest that the proper time to add the Guinness is into a pint glass beside the plate before you begin to eat!

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