My favorite Irish joke goes like this: "What's green and sits outside in the rain? Paddy 'O Furniture!"
This lamb stew is so easy to make - after browning the lamb you layer the veggies, add water to cover and after about 1.5 hours you have a thick delicious stew sure to warm you even if you are caught outside in the rain like poor Paddy.
The more you veer away from the simpleness of this recipe the less it will be the best stew you've ever had. Believe me I know, I once tried adding white wine - ruined it. Another time it was celery - ruined it, and anther bad idea was chicken broth instead of water - you guessed it.
Step 1: Ingredients:
- 1 pound lamb cubes - since Uncle Paddy is a butcher he always has the lamb packaged as shown in the photo, but I'm in a different state (DC) and was able to find it the same way here at the farmer's market, so you should be able to find it this way as well.
- 3 or 4 carrots. I confess that since I was at the farmer's market anyway I sprang for those expensive carrots that have their green tops still on - what a revelation! They were so sweet and tasty that I think I'll always buy them from now on.
- 10 - 14 baby potatoes
- flour for dredging
- Olive oil, or any oil really
- 2 or 3 onions (not sweet ones)
- 1 or 2 leeks (optional but really delicious)
- Parsley (optional but looks good)
Step 2: Dredge and Brown
For your first step heat up some olive oil (any sort of oil will do), enough to make a thin layer on the bottom of the pot. Add a big pinch - as much as your fingers and thumb can hold - of salt to the flour. Dredge the lamb pieces in the flour and set aside until you can put all of them into the pot at once.
I have an aversion to fat so the first thing I did one time was laboriously trim every tiny bit of fat on every piece of lamb. Well that was a mistake and also not necessary at all because the fats melts into nothingness. So go right ahead and dredge the lamb pieces in flour. The flour is the trick to the stew being so nice and thick on it's own without there even being any extra steps at the end.
Step 3: Layer the Onions
This is what I love about this recipe - it's so easy, the results are stellar and you are free to do other things like make a salad and dessert while the stew is doing all of the work.
Peel the carrots and slice into large bites, chop the onions into large pieces, check the potatoes and trim if needed so that they are close to the same size as the carrots. If you sprang for leeks be sure to look for the dirt that hides in the layers, wash them well under running water. I love leeks but they are expensive, in this case they are worth it.
Step 4: Layer the Potatoes, Carrots, and Leeks
Step 5: Add Water, Cover, and DON'T Stir
Set the heat for medium high and when the stew starts to boil madly turn down the heat until it simmers strongly. Cook for an hour or so and check a potatoes for doneness. Judge how much longer the stew needs to cook based on that potato. You should not have to add any more water.
Step 6: Done!
When the potatoes are tender the stew is done, add some parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Now is when you will want to stir the stew, and you may think at first that it is too soupy - but just when you are thinking that very thought, the flour you dredged the lamb in will start to do its magic and by the time you ladle it into soup bowls it will be nice and thick.