Irish Stew, Lamb

From Grandmother to Mother to Daughter…


My friend’s niece arrived in Dublin and declared she would like to eat ‘Irish food’. That very thought strikes horror in most people as traditional Irish food can be quite bland. In many recipes, there is an over reliance on offal or they consist of boiled meat.

For me, the notion of ‘Irish food’ conjures up images ranging from ‘Packet and Tripe’ (a Limerick dish of blood sausage and the lining of a cow’s stomach cooked in milk) and stuffed lamb’s heart to boiled bacon, corned beef or mutton. Some of it I actually love but as I am no fan of offal, many delicacies are simply lost on me!

I do love Irish Stew. I make it from my Grandmother’s recipe and always marvel at the fact that for such a tasty dish, it contains so few ingredients. It’s a pity that I’ve no idea where the big wrought iron pot my mother cooked in has gone but I can just about replicate the taste using an ordinary saucepan on the stove top.

This is a rugged recipe. I have seen dolled up versions of Irish Stew in restaurants where garlic and cream are added and the vegetables are pared. I prefer this one. It is both simpler and less rich. The meat used is generally a cheaper cut like gigot chops or neck as the bones are needed to enrich the stock.

The dish is assembled in layers and usually not stirred during the cooking process. The pan is sealed and slow cooked so it’s effectively cooked in its own steam. No oil is added.

It’s cooked in an average sized large saucepan. To judge if the size is correct, the meat should cover the bottom of the pan without gaps or overlaps. The recipe feeds 4 and any leftovers make a hearty soup for the next day.

Boiling water
1 1/2lb lamb (gigot chops or neck)
5 carrot chopped in rounds
1 large onion chopped roughly
1 1/2lb potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper


1. Choose enough lamb to cover the entire base of the saucepan you are using without gaps or overlaps
2. Cover the meat with hot water to about 1 inch over meat
3. Season with salt, pepper and a small sprinkle of sugar
4. Put in a layer of roughly chopped onion over the meat
5. Put a layer of chopped carrots over the onions
6. Season with a little more salt and pepper
7. Put a layer of medium sized potatoes on top (these should cover the entire top)
8. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer
9. Place a double sheet of greaseproof paper over top of the saucepan and push lid in to seal
10. Cook slowly at a simmer for about an hour (when potatoes are cooked, it’s done)

Beef, Burgers, Burgers

We’re all about burgers


It doesn’t matter how amazing food is or how sophisticated the dining experience, there are times when we simply crave burgers. Not the frozen variety but the homemade version. It’s not merely about the taste but the whole ensemble.

The wrapper has to be correct – whether it be bun, crusty roll, pitta bread or flatbread. The accompaniments must be just right too – assortment of salads and sauces. There has to be sauce as a burger is too dry without one!

We alternate between beef and lamb depending on what we fancy. The lamb burger is spicy and is best made in advance while the beef ones can be prepped and cooked at the same time.

Each recipe makes four large or six medium sized burgers.

1lb beef minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

1. Mix all ingredients together until completely combined
2. Shape into four or six burgers
3. Heat the oil and place the burgers in the pan
4. Reduce heat and fry for 4-6 minutes on each side depending on preferences
5. Alternatively, these can be cooked in the oven by placing the burgers on a baking sheet. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes depending on preference. There is no need to add oil
6. Serve immediately on a burger bun or crusty roll with salad (shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot) or cheese with or without crispy bacon and sauces (ketchup, mayonaise, mayonaise mixed with curry powder or chilli jam or horseradish).


1lb lamb, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced finely
1½ inch piece ginger, grated finely
1-2 green chillis, chopped finely (Cayenne Pepper can be used if necessary but it is best to use fresh chillis)
1½ cups bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

1. Combine onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and blend into a rough paste
2. Add to the mince
3. Add breadcrumbs, garam masala, cumin, beaten egg, salt and pepper
4. Mix until all ingredients are completely combined
5. Refrigerate the mix for 30 minutes or until needed
6. Divide into four or six burgers
7. Heat the oil and place the burgers in the pan
8. Reduce heat and fry for 5 minutes on each side
9. Serve immediately on crusty rolls, flatbread or in pitta bread
10. Accompaniments can include salad (chopped tomatoes, lettuce, grated carrot, red onion), natural yoghurt (plain, herbed or raita), mayonnaise and/or chilli jam

Lamb, Slow Cooked Shanks

Slow cooked lamb shanks  

When the weather is freezing, my need for red meat escalates accordingly. This time I didn’t want anything too heavy so I threw together the following recipe for lamb shanks cooked in the oven. Instead of using red wine, which I felt might overpower the dish, I opted for white wine and it worked very well.

While light in consistency, the sauce was quite intense in flavour. When I tasted it, I longed for some fresh French Bread to dip into it as it was delicious; I’d be completely happy with that on its own! The final dish? It’s rather hearty but perfect winter fare. I ate mine with creamy mashed potato because I am such a creature of habit while the Teen chose whole wheat pasta and both complimented it very nicely indeed. Other alternatives would be to serve it with green beans or flageolet beans instead of potatoes, rice or pasta.

The dish takes time to cook but we think it’s worth it.

Lamb Shanks

(Serves 4)

4 lamb shanks
1 large onion, chopped finely
6 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
4 large carrots, diced
12 fluid ounces white wine
Tin of chopped tomatoes
4 fluid ounces good quality chicken stock
Bouquet garni
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

1. Preheat the oven to 220C
2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy casserole dish
3. Brown each of the lamb shanks, removing each from the dish when done and setting aside
4. Add another tablespoon of oil and when hot, add the onion
5. Cover with the lid and allow to soften for a couple of minutes
6. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes
7. Mix in the carrots, coating them with the onion and garlic mix
8. After cooking these for a further two minutes, add the wine and bring to a gentle boil
9. Stir in the tomatoes and stock
10. Season with salt and pepper and tuck the bouquet garni into the sauce
11. Place the lamb shanks on top of the sauce and cover with the lid
12. Pop into the oven and after 10 minutes reduce the heat to 165
13. After 40 minutes, check the casserole and cover the meat with sauce
14. Return to the oven
15. After 1 hour and 45 minutes, remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce down for 15 minutes
16. Replace the lid and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving with an accompaniment of your choice.

Lamb, Moroccan Meatballs with Cous Cous

Moroccan meatballs with cous cous

Winter is creeping in and the annual yearning for red meat continues to escalate. Many meat dishes take a long time to prepare and to cook. It is nice then to have something which is quick, easy and tasty. This is tried and tested – a firm family favourite.

1lb lamb mince
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, chopped finely
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
Some sunflower oil for frying
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Tin of chopped tomatoes in own juice
1lb cous cous
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Mix meat, ½ tsp cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper, half the chopped onion and half the chopped parsley
2. Make into small meatballs (size of walnuts)
3. Fry in the heated oil
4. Remove meatballs
5. Fry the rest of the onion and garlic in the same pan, coating with the mix
6. Add the rest of the cumin.
7. Add meatballs and toss completely in this mixture
8. Add the tin of tomatoes and remaining chopped parsley
9. Prepare the cous cous as per the instructions on the pack. I cover the bowl with cling film while the water or stock is being absorbed
10. Fluff up the cous cous, add the butter and mix throughly
11. Season with salt and pepper
12. Add in lemon juice into meatballs mixture just before serving.



Kofta, Lamb

Lamb Kofta – a versatile feast

In our home, Lamb Kofta is one of the handiest dishes as it is quick to prepare and adapts to all seasons. In Summer, I serve this with flatbreads or pitta, wedges of lemon and salad. Side dishes include plain yoghurt, baba ganoush, yoghurt with mint, raita, roast vegetables (strips of red peppers and red onion) or all of them if we have company!

 In Winter, these Lamb Kofta are delicious served with pilau rice, steamed spinach or roasted vegetables (aubergine, red pepper and slivers of red onion) and a yoghurt accompaniment. It’s not the authentic way to serve them but it has got the thumbs up from the teen and many visitors (including the numerous au pairs who have wandered through our lives).

 Lamb Kofta

1lb lamb, minced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper or 1 green chilli, chopped finely
½ rind of lemon, grated (more if you prefer)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl
2. Mix together thoroughly
3. The mix can be made in advance and left in the fridge until needed
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, measure out into equal meatball size
5. These can be fried as meatballs in a little sunflower oil for a few minutes on each side until brown. I prefer to put them on a tray with no oil in the oven at 180c for about 10 minutes
6. Alternatively, two meatballs can be moulded onto a skewer in a sausage shape and grilled. They should be grilled at a medium to hot heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side until brown
7. They are best served hot but can be eaten cold too.