Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Irish Food: Stew and Potatoes!

This week is so busy at work that I spent Sunday cooking so that I would have food to eat all week when I finally make it home in the evening. The menu for the week, as well as the soup of the previous post, features beef stew and colcannon, which is Irish mashed potatoes. The stew is not really Irish stew because it has no beer or red wine in it, but I think it still counts. I prefer it with just beef stock, and I used sweet potato instead of normal potatoes because I like them better. But to be a traditional Irish stew it should have normal potato and some of the stock should be replaced by beer (Guinness or some other stout would be best) and red wine. As for the colcannon, I have had this made for me on St Paddy's day by an Irish friend and then to make my own had a quick look on the internet. This dish features kale, which is cabbage but has curly leaves and is much more mild than normal cabbage. I'm sure you can get it everywhere else too but maybe it is only called kale here? So for a warming winter meal keep on reading because it all turned out really delicious!

 Beef Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil (or other fat)
1 onion
3 clove garlic
2 rashers of bacon
500 grams casserole steak
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
1 small sweet potato (about 300 grams)
3 carrots
1 cup peas
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup pearl barley (if you don't have this just leave it out)
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons bisto (gravy) powder, or cornflour
3 cups beef stock (3 cubes/teaspoons stock powder, 3 cups water)

Okay, so I know that it looks like a lot of ingredients but most of it should be stuff that you have lying around. First of all, heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Then chop up the bacon and onion finely, crush the garlic and then heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onion, garlic and bacon until cooked and soft. Remove from the heat and place the mixture (leaving as much fat as possible behind) in a large casserole dish (at least 2.5 litres).

Chop the beef into bite-sized pieces. Mix the flour in a bowl with salt and pepper, then toss the meat in the flour.

Heat the pan again and cook the beef until it is brown on all sides. This isn't absolutely neccessary if you can't be bothered but if you don't sear the beef first your meat will not be so nice at the end. Add this to the casserole dish as well.

Dice the sweet potato and carrot, then add these on top of the meat. Add the peas and barley and give it all a stir until it is quite well mixed. Add everything else over the top and give it another stir. Finally, put the lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven. I always place it on top of a tray or in a roasting dish because no matter what, when I cook stuff it almost always overflows.

After about 2 or 3 hours the meat should be cooked (easily chewed, not terribly tough). Which means that your stew is ready! Although some might argue that it is a casserole because it is cooked in the oven and not on the stove. I think that I will call it whatever I like, they are mostly interchangeable.


800 grams potatoes (this should feed about 4 people, depending on how much everybody likes to eat!)

2-3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (or butter of course, I had none)

2-3 rashers bacon
3 cloves garlic

2-3 cups kale (or cabbage but that wouldn't be so nice. I guess you could use spinach or silverbeet too)
Black pepper
1/4 cup buttermilk (you could use real cream but I had none and this turned out really nice)

First thing to do is chop up the potatoes and throw them in a large pot. Cover them with water and sprinkle the salt over, then cover the pot and bring to the boil. When it is boiling turn it down to simmer until the potatoes cook, and in the meantime prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and chop the bacon into it. I do this with kitchen scissors, it is so much easier than cutting bacon with a knife, and I chop it right into the pan. Alternatively, you could chop everything up first and then cook it. Whatever way you do it, once you have the bacon frying, crush the garlic and add that to the pan. Stir this a bit, then leave it to cook while you slice the kale up finely. Add the kale to the pan and stir until it is cooked (just give it a quick taste, it should be sort of soft, not crunchy, and bright green).

So when the potatoe is ready, drain it well and add the buttermilk. Mash it to whatever consistency you like, adding pepper until it is just right (and more salt if you like but you shouldn't need it). Stir in the kale mixture and your Irish mashed potatoes are ready!

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