“Rack of Lamb” Irish Stew & Colcannon Potatoes.

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Irish stew is a celebrated Irish dish, yet its composition is a matter of dispute. Purists maintain that the only acceptable and traditional ingredients are neck mutton chops or kid, potatoes, onions, and water. Others would add such items as carrots, turnips, and pearl barley; but the purists maintain that they spoil the true flavour of the dish. The ingredients are boiled and simmered slowly for up to two hours. Mutton was the dominant ingredient because the economic importance of sheep lay in their wool and milk produce and this ensured that only old or economically non-viable animals ended up in the cooking pot, where they needed hours of slow cooking. Irish stew is the product of a culinary tradition that relied almost exclusively on cooking over an open fire. It seems that Irish stew was recognised as early as about 1800.

Unfortunately my version would be classed as non purist, but it tastes absolutely fantastic and we are in the 21st century now, so add or take away anything you like I say.

For the Stew;

Ingredients.

8 lamb chop cutlets from the rack of lamb (ask your butcher to prepare these for you)
4 large carrots peeled and chopped into chunks
16 baby onions/pickling onions peeled and left whole
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 heaped teaspoon of dried thyme
250ml of fresh lamb stock (most supermarkets sell this in tubs) if you have no other alternative then use hot water and two lamb stock cubes.
200ml of Guinness
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
2 good shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon of Pearl Barley
50g of butter
50g of flour
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method.

Trim some of the fat from from each of the chops and put the fat in a medium heated frying pan. This will melt some of the lamb fat for use in the next couple of steps.

Set the oven on at 180C (160C for fan).

Prepare the baby onions, peel the carrots then cut into larger than normal chunks.

After 5 to 10 minutes, remove the fatty pieces from the frying pan and throw them away. Fry each lamb chop in the fat for about three minutes at a medium temperature – turn half way through.

Put the lamb chops in the casserole dish and fry the carrots and onions in the remaining fat for two minutes – turning frequently.

Put the onions and carrots around the lamb chops in the casserole dish. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Add the thyme, Worcestershire Sauce, pearl barley, lamb stock and Guinness. Place the casserole (covered) in the pre-heated oven and cook for one and a half hours.

Roux is a mix of 50/50 butter and flour which will thicken the gravy in the casserole dish. It can be used to thicken all sorts of sauces as well.

Melt the butter on a medium heat in a pan, then whisk (or vigorously fork in) the flour. Cook for 2 minutes whisking all the time to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Take the casserole dish from the oven and pour off most of the gravy into the pan of roux (be careful, the casserole dish will be hot).

Quickly blend the gravy and roux together with your whisk or fork. Add the thickened gravy back into the casserole and scatter the top with the parsley. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Put the casserole dish (covered) back in the oven for ten minutes.

Serve with Colcannon Potatoes.

For the Colcannon;

Ingredients.

2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into about 2 inch chunks
1/2 pound of spring green cabbage, shredded
6 tablespoons of salted butter, plus a little more to top the potatoes
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 spring onions, finely chopped
Approximately 200ml of warm double cream

Method.

Put the potato chunks in a large saucepan.

Cover with water and add 1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender.

Meanwhile melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan and sauté the cabbage for about 3 minutes, keeping it on the move until it’s tender and slightly golden at the edges.

Season it with a little Maldon sea salt.

Add the chopped spring onions and continue to cook for another minute or so.

Next drain the potatoes, return them to the saucepan. Add the remaining butter and three quarters of the double cream.

Mash the potatoes until light fluffy, adding more cream if needed. Season them with Maldon sea salt and a few good turns of freshly ground black pepper pepper.

Then finally stir in the cabbage. Make a small well in the potatoes and put some extra butter in the hole.

Happy Eating!
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