Kiss Me, I Made Irish Stew!

Like many of the things I make for dinner, the decision to make Irish Stew came from a giant bag of potatoes I’d bought a week prior when I wanted to make Roasted Chicken with Potatoes.   Since we aren’t a huge potato eating family (although my kids ARE mostly Irish), I needed to find a way to use them up before they started growing eyes and horns and other ugly protrusions.  Irish Stew it would be.

Because I did not feel like babysitting a stovetop-made stew all day, I decided to use my crock pot.  I did, however, also decide to brown the lamb meat in a pan beforehand, even though that goes against my usual un-fussy kitchen nature.  Why use a crock pot if you’re going to dirty up a bunch of other pans in the process?  Well, I knew it would add a depth of flavor you just can’t get in the crock pot alone, so I sucked it up and took the extra step.  I have to tell you, it was worth washing that one extra pan!

I kept my stew simple—lamb (you could substitute beef), carrots, celery, potatoes, and a few sprigs of rosemary (that part might not be entirely Irish, but I’m also Italian, so I couldn’t resist adding it).  Thyme and bay would be a little more traditional, but I’m not exactly a traditional when it comes to cooking (or a lot of other things, for that matter).  Throw it all in the crock pot and enjoy the aromas for the rest of the day.  Even better, your family will feel lucky as a leprechaun when it’s time for dinner!  Serve it with some crusty bread and a green salad and you’re good to go.  Well, I’m waiting….go ahead and kiss me, already!

Crock Pot Irish Stew

Serves 4-6

2 lbs lamb stew meat, cut into 1″ chunks

2 tablespoons flour

olive oil

6 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces

4 ribs of celery, cut into 1″ pieces

2 small onions, cut into a medium dice

1  1/2 lbs potatoes, cut into 3/4″ pieces (I prefer Yukon Gold)

2 1/2 cups chicken broth (okay to substitute beef broth)

2 sprigs rosemary, left whole

Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel and place into a large ziplock plastic bag.  Sprinkle in flour, seal bag, and shake to coat evenly.

In a large skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of the oil until hot and add lamb.   Brown on all sides.  Keep in mind you are only BROWNING, not cooking the meat all the way through!  Make sure you get a nice deep, brown color.  Do not crowd the pan or you’ll end up steaming the meat rather than browning it.  You may need to work in two batches.

Add browned meat to the crock pot along with chopped vegetables and rosemary sprigs.  Meanwhile, use about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the broth to deglaze the pan.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all those brown bits on the bottom of the pan, then pour the entire thing into the crock pot.  Add the rest of the broth to the crock pot as well.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.  When all the veggies are tender and meat is cooked through, taste and season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the sauce is too thin, sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of flour and stir well.  Remove rosemary sprigs (which will now be twigs!)  and serve hot.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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