Irish Stew, Lamb

From Grandmother to Mother to Daughter…

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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.

Ingredients
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
Sugar

 

Method
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)

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Beef, Burgers, Burgers

We’re all about burgers

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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.

Beef
Ingredients
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

Method
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).

 

Lamb
Ingredients
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

Method
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

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