If you're a purist, Irish stew is one of the easiest dishes to make for St. Patrick's Day.
That's because according to culinary lore, the only ingredients are lamb, potatoes, onions and water. Supposedly, adding anything else clouds the true flavors of the stew. And if you're really going to stay true to tradition, all you're allowed to do is dump those ingredients in a pot (preferably over an open fire) and walk away for the day.
The good news is that making a far more flavorful version of this stew isn't all that difficult, and your efforts are rewarded with a rich, brothy meal with layers of flavor that complement — rather than compete with — the core ingredients.
And no open fire or all-day simmering needed.
IRISH LAMB STEW
Start to finish: 2 hours (30 minutes active)
2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-nch pieces
1 pound parsnips, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 quart vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pound (24 ounces) new potatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan over medium-high, heat the oil. Working in batches, Add the lamb to the pan and sear on all sides, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. As each batch is browned, use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer it to a plate.
When all the lamb has been seared, add it all back to the pan. Add the leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, broth, bay leaves and thyme. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add the potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes and the lamb are tender when pierced with a fork, about another 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the parsley and season with additional salt and black pepper, if needed.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 490 calories; 130 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 52 g carbohydrate; 37 g protein; 10 g fiber; 860 mg sodium.