Last year we went to an Irish cooking class. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much, but thought it would be a fun social event. This class surprised me. It was delicious, comforting, and exceeded our expectations. On a side note, I’m only 3/4 Italian heritage; the rest is a mix of Scotch, Irish, English, and it was fun embracing this cuisine.
The menu included Irish Stew, Colcannon, Shamrock Salad and a delicious Irish soda bread. I’ll share the recipe for the Irish stew and the Irish soda bread. This makes a great snow day meal, and that’s exactly what we did last week.
Irish Stew – What is it?
So what is Irish Stew anyway? It’s a true meat and potatoes dish, but a little different from a typical beef stew. Often known as Mulligan Stew, it developed as a meat and vegetable dish sometime in the 17th or 18th century, for farmers and shepherds who would welcome a simply made, hot meal on a damp, cold day.
Irish stew is typically made with beer, and usually no thickener is used to make a more gravy-like stew. Since we are major soup and broth lovers in this house, we love it more broth-like.
The Irish also relied on cabbage, turnips, and onions, in addition to milk, cheese and beef from cows. You could replace the potatoes with turnips for a low carb stew, but cook only at last twenty to thirty minutes because they cook fast and will turn to a bitter mush.
Ingredients for Irish Stew
- Marbled Beef Cubes (or lamb, which is more authentic)
- Potatoes (can sub with turnips for more low carb)
- Beef Broth
- Olive Oil
Beef or Lamb Irish Stew
Lamb is more typical in Ireland, but beef is used more in the states. If you love the idea of a lamb stew, you have to make this Hunger Games Lamb Stew I made years ago.
Or go ahead and use lamb for this recipe. Many people don’t give lamb a fighting chance, and a leg of lamb can be very tasty and affordable (Costco has a good price).
Beer for Irish Stew
The typical beer for the best Irish Stew is Guinness. I was snowed in and used what this beer I found in the fridge. It worked fine. You could also sub with a cup of red wine, but this is Irish stew, so use beer if you can.
If you can’t use beer for whatever reason, substitute with more beef broth, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce.
Process for Making the Best Irish Stew
Just like all other stew recipes, the meat should be a little marbled, seasoned with salt and pepper and browned really well before adding it to the broth. This stew doesn’t require flouring first, but if you want a thicker stew you can do that.
Once the meat is browned add garlic and cook for just a minute to bring flavor. Add in remaining vegetables (except potatoes), broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add in the beer. Cook for 30 minutes. Add in bite-sized potatoes and cook for another 60 minutes. I keep the carrots in quite large pieces and put them in from the beginning. If you are going to substitute turnips for potatoes, add them in at the last 30 minutes of cooking or you will have mush.
Tips for Best Irish Stew
- Irish stew is typically brothy. You can thicken, but our family likes the brothiness.
- Keep carrots in large pieces so they don’t get mushy.
- Add potatoes at last 30 minutes. I prefer golden yukons.
- Make sure to brown the meat on all sides.
Finish: Taste for seasoning. Add chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Irish Soda Bread in the Oven
This recipe for soda bread is glorious. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and just a tad sweet with golden raisins. Feel free to use brown raisins, currents, or dried fruit of choice.
Traditional Vs. This Recipe for Soda Bread
- Traditional Recipe: No Butter, Egg or Sugar. Made on top of the stove. (per my Irish Cookbook)
- This Recipe: Baked on oven. Butter in recipe similar to American biscuits.
- Both recipes use flour, buttermilk and baking soda.
Tips for Irish Soda Bread
- If you don’t weigh out the flour, please spoon in your measuring cup.
- Keep ingredients cold, especially butter.
- Mix egg into the buttermilk first.
- Make your own buttermilk: add a teaspoon distilled vinegar or lemon juice, and wait about 10 minutes.
- Keep dough sticky and don’t over-mix. Treat soda bread same way you would treat American biscuits. Sticky is good.
- Cold butter (pea size) that doesn’t get smeared into the flour. Makes for fluffy inside.
- Raisins: I prefer golden raisins, but you can leave them out or replace with other dried fruit.
- Best eaten same day, and out of the oven, but can be reheated up to two days.
Don’t wait until St. Patrick’s Day to try these recipes. They are perfect for comfort and chasing away the winter blues. Please leave me a comment, letting me know if you have ever made Irish Stew, and if you have a different version, I’d love to hear about it.
More Stews from Spinach Tiger
- Hunger Games Lamb Stew
- Italian Beef Stew
- Veal Stew with Onion Sauce
- Beef Bourguinon
- Veal Stew with Turnips and Purple Potatoes
Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds Beef chuck stew meat
- salt, pepper
- 1 onion diced
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 16 ounce bottle Beer (Guiness or Your Choice)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 t dried thyme
- chopped parsley for garnish
- 3 cups cubed (large) yellow yukon potatoes or russet
IRISH SODA BREAD
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 4 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
- 1/2 cup raisins optional
- Heat olive oil in dutch oven you will be making stew in.
- Season cubed meat with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. You may need to work in batches so as to not steam the meat. Transfer to a plate. Meat does NOT need to be cooked through. It will cook in the stew broth,
- Add more oil if needed and cook onion, carrots and celery for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add thyme.
- Add meat back.
- Add broth and beer.
- Cook on very low for about two hours. Add potatoes in during the last 30 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley. Serve.
IRISH SODA BREAD
- Mix flour with salt, sugar, baking soda.
- Add raisins if using.
- Cut in butter. Butter should be cold and pea size.
- Add buttermilk (can make with regular milk and teaspoon of white vinegar).
- Use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix. It should be sticky dough. Use some extra flour to form into a round. DO NOT OVER MIX.
- Bake in cast pan or griddle at 375 degrees F. for 35-50 minutes. My oven cooked very fast. Internal temperature should be 208 degrees F.
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