Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Stew For Spring

There have been far too many sugary treats this week and it's high time I posted about some real food. I like meals that I can cook in bulk so that when I come home from a long day at work, and especially if I have been playing sports, I can just throw a bowl of whatever is waiting into the microwave. What has been keeping me going recently is an Irish-inspired stew (it's Irish because it contains beer and potatoes). I used lamb because it's spring and there's lots of it on the supermarket shelves at the moment, but you could use any stewing meat. There was a bottle of beer in the fridge and again, doesn't really matter what sort of beer it is. To be really Irish you could use stout but maybe the taste would be really strong. I don't actually like beer so I was worried how the stew would taste, but after about an hour of simmering the boozy smell had disappeared. I know a stew is meant to be sort of watery (I think a lot of my soups should probably more correctly be called stews actually) but I like gravy so when the stew was nearly cooked I thickened it up with plenty of cornflour and so here I give you a recipe for what is essentially meat and vegetables in gravy. Yum.

Lamb Stew with Mint

500 grams lamb stewing steak, diced into bite-sized chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 bottle beer (about 330 mL)
500 mL water
1 small handful fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon dried, mixed herbs (or choose your own various herbs, fresh or dry)
2 large potatoes
2 large carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cornflour/cornstarch

Take a large, heavy-bottomed pot or a casserole dish (the type that sits on top of the stove, not an oven dish). Heat some oil in it and then add the onion and meat. Cook, stirring, until the meat has browned on all sides. Then pour in the beer and the water and add the mint and herbs. Simmer for about an hour and a half.

While the stew is simmering, dice the potato into small cubes and slice the carrots cross-ways so that you have small circles (or half circles, and you can actually cut the carrot any way you want, I just thought circles would look nice). After the stew has simmered for an hour and a half add the potatoes and let it cook for another half hour or so. Check at this point that the meat is tender, because you don't want to overcook the carrot so the meat should pretty much be ready at this point. If the meat seems done, add the carrot and begin to season with salt and pepper.

Take the cornflour and place it in a small bowl. Scoop out a bit of the water from the stew and add it to the flour, then stir it quickly until it is a smooth paste. Scoop out some more water, add it to the paste and stir it quickly again until you have a smooth mixture. Do this one more time, but this time scoop out about a cup of the water and stir it into the flour mixture. You do this because if you add the flour paste directly to the stew you will get lumps of gelatinous goo instead of a homogeneously thick gravy. So, after you have stirred the cup of liquid into the flour mixture until it is smooth, pour it slowly into the hot stew, stirring while you do so. Keep the stew simmering about 10 minutes longer, then check the taste again and maybe season with more salt and pepper (I find that adding the flour makes the sauce seem a little bland and that it needs more salt). And then you are done!


  1. We raised lamb for years, but I just never cooked much of it. It was hard for me after working with the lambs on a daily basis...what a farmer I was LOL.
    This sounds like a tasty dish that I know my husband and son would love!
    I would like to invite you to share you recipe in my 'Made From Scratch' Monday recipe hop. It is a weekly event open from 7pm each Sunday until midnight Wed. Hope to see you there ☺

  2. I've just discovered how delicious lamb is... especially in a stew. Please share this on my foodie friday linky today.

  3. Lovely dish. Thanks for linking this in to Food on Friday. Have a fabulous week.

    PS Next week's theme for Food on Friday is soup.


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