Irish Stew in the name of the law

Irish Stew is probably the best known Irish dish, but it is so often misinterpreted that I thought I should attempt to set the record straight.

3 Rules for Authentic Irish Stew

  1. Don’t brown the lamb or veg as it interferes with the delicate flavour
  2. No flour! Instead use barley to thicken the gravy
  3. Cook the potatoes separately as they can get a bit mushy

Warning for spice-addicts

Irish Stew is so delicate and mild that for anyone accustomed to spiced dishes it can seem almost unbearably bland. But trust me, with a good dollop of Dijon mustard it is the most soothing and satiating of comfort meals. However, if you need your spicy kicks then a bit of good lime pickle on the side will do the trick!

Irish Stew recipe

(serves 8)

1 kilo (about 2 lbs) of lamb shoulder or gigot chops
4-5 medium carrots, chopped roughly (large pieces)
2 parsnips, chopped to same size as carrots
3 medium onions, quartered
2 handfuls of barley (rinsed)
A quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt (you can add more to taste later if you need to)
A good pinch of white pepper
A litre of water or stock
2 bay leaves


Cut the lamb roughly into 1 inch pieces or ask your butcher to do this for you. Remove any large pieces of fat although some fat should remain.

Cover the lamb in cold water, bring to the boil for 10 minutes or so, skim off any scum. Then drain, add the fresh water and all the other ingredients. That’s all you need to do.

Cover the pot and simmer gently either on the hob or in the oven for about 1.5 hours. Not too much longer as it will turn to mush. If you have a slow cooker (Crockpot) you can cook the stew on low for 8-9 hours and come home to delicious smells wafting through the house.

To serve:

Stir in plenty of freshly chopped parsley before serving. Bring the pot to the table along with a steaming bowl of lovely  whole boiled potatoes in their skins – the floury kind such as Queens or Roosters are super tasty.

And don’t forget the Dijon mustard!


Featured photo courtesy of Tesco who have another recipe you are welcome to try!


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