Which is more Irish? Lamb shows up often, but there are plenty of beef versions to be found. But why choose? We give you a version of each.
A tale of two stews: At its most basic, an Irish stew slow-cooks together meat, potatoes, onions and water. We offer Brazen Head beef and Guinness stew, pictured left, and Irish stew, right. And, yes, there are vegetarian versions. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons each: tomato paste, beef bouillon
2 cups carrots, cut in chunks
1 cup celery, cut in chunks
1/2 pound button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 sprig thyme
1 1/4 cups Guinness stout, about 1 bottle
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot; season meat with the salt and pepper to taste. Brown meat, in batches, on all sides; return all the meat to the pot. Add water to just cover meat; cover pot. Simmer until meat is tender, 1-2 hours; do not boil. Skim off any foam.
2. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste and beef bouillon; heat to a boil. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, thyme and Guinness; simmer 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (The stew may be thickened with a flour-oil roux if desired.)
Per serving: 386 calories, 24 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrates, 31 g protein, 538 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
Adapted from Colman Andrews' "The Country Cooking of Ireland." "You want it fairly thick," he says. "Some people say you should be able to stand a spoon up in it." And: "Keep it simple. Improvisation is fine, and the world won't end if you add carrots or fresh thyme or whatever. But don't throw too many different things into the pot."
Trim and cube 3 pounds mutton or lamb, from the neck or shoulder. Layer into a heavy casserole with 2 pounds russet potatoes, thickly sliced, 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped, and 1 pound onions, thinly sliced. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water. Heat to a simmer over low heat (do not boil). Cover; put in a 250-degree oven, 2 1/2-3 hours. Add water if needed. Makes: 6 servings