So you know, I’m only a month behind on this post. But that’s okay, you’ll have it around for next year! St. Patrick’s Day is always one of our favorite cooking days, as evidenced by our array of Irish recipes that tend to pop up during that time of year. We so rarely cook with meat, that making a big, hearty pot of some sort of beef stew is just the most satisfying type of meal we can cook to celebrate our bits of Irish heritage. Particularly after traveling in Ireland, there are certain characteristics I look for in Irish meals that aren’t based on butter, cheese or heaviness. In fact, while usually straightforward and not elegant, Irish food does have a wider array of qualities to it than people expect. During my time there I enjoyed everything from medieval meals to blood pudding to many full Irish breakfasts. But those were only the traditional foods. I also enjoyed modern European cuisines, many crepes, and kernels of sweet corn tucked into even the most basic of meals, like a tuna sandwich or pizza. While the purpose of Irish food is to be filling and hearty, the experience of eating Irish is centered on the communal meal shared with people you love. And that, my friends, is why we turn to our traditional Irish stews and breads to celebrate our heritage.
This year, we tried a different stew recipe that isn’t too far off from our other stew that we usually make. Ingredients-wise, this has less items to pull together and involves some fun things like a turnip, which we had never tried before (newsflash: it was pretty tasty)! The veggie to meat ratio was more appealing to us than our other Guinness-heavy stew, and the slow cooking in the Dutch oven was of course another attraction for the two of us. We chose to slow cook ours in the oven, though if you have the space on your stovetop to slow cook it there, I imagine it works just as well. Give this a shot and compare it to our previous stew to decide which you like better!
Irish Stew (serves 6-8)
2 tbsp veggie oil
2 lbs. stew beef, cut into chunks (or lamb)
2-3 onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small turnip, peeled and sliced
2-3 large baking potatoes, thickly sliced
S&P, to taste
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups beef broth (from Better Than Bouillon)
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil on a medium setting. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cook the beef in batches on all sides until all the meat is browned. In the same pan, alternate layers of meat, onions/carrots/turnips, and potatoes, ending with potatoes on top. Sprinkle each layer with S&P, thyme and some parsley. Add the broth and cover tightly with a lid. Bake the stew in a preheated over for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Check occasionally and add more stock (or water) if necessary. Before serving, brown the potatoes under the broiler for a few minutes and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Soda Bread (Serves 6-8)
1 tbsp butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, cut the butter into the flours until it’s the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in soda and salt. Beating constantly with a large wooden spoon (or mixer), add enough buttermilk to form a firm ball. Knead the dough in the bowl for several minutes, then form a ball. on a cooking stone (or greased/lightly floured cookie sheet), flatted the dough slightly. With a floured knife, cut a cross in the top about 1-1 1/2″ deep in the center. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Cool slightly on a rack, then wrap in a tea towel to keep warm until ready to serve. Enjoy!