I really enjoy the warmer, not yet hot, weather we experience here in southern California during the spring. But fall and winter are my favorite seasons for cooking. I love making cozy comforting soups, stews, and casseroles. There’s no reason why I can’t make these sorts of dishes during spring and summer, but it just doesn’t feel quite the same.
A few months ago, during one of our colder January spells, I got a craving for Irish stew. But I’d never made it before. I starting scouring cookbooks and websites for good recipes. I couldn’t find any single recipe I really liked, so I selected what I did like from each one and came up with my own:
I opted to go a little heavy on the Guinness, but I happen to love the stuff. You might want to start off with just 1 can, and add more according to your taste during the baking process.
This is excellent with warm sourdough bread. Oh, and with another Guinness of course.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 pound lamb stew meat
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 medium potatoes, cubed (I like to keep the skins on)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- ½ large onion, chopped in big chunks
- 2 cans Guinness
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
- cornstarch mixed in water, to thicken
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Pat lamb dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle lamb generously with salt and pepper. In a Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.
- Add the lamb in a single layer and brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer nicely browned pieces to a bowl.
- Melt the butter in the pot. Saute onions until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic, continue stirring, and cook 1 minute more.
- Return meat to the pot. Add the potatoes, carrots, thyme, basil, and bay leaf. Pour the Guinness over the pot mixture. Dissolve the been bouillon granules in the 1 cup of water (this is twice the normal concentration), and add to the stew.
- Cover and bake 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
- Check the stew with 30 minutes remaining. If the broth isn’t a thick enough consistency for you, dissolve cornstarch in a small glass of water and add it to the stew. Continue until it’s the consistency you like.
- Remove the bay leaf before serving.