An easy version of the traditional Irish stew. Delicious, filling, half of your 5-a-day and into the oven in only 15 minutes.
I’m really excited to be bringing you a recipe today that I’ve created on behalf of Simply Beef and Lamb and their Live Peasant campaign – my take on the traditional Irish stew. The idea behind the Live Peasant campaign is something I’ve found myself embracing recently, and that’s making dinners that take minimal effort to prepare and then cook slowly, letting the oven do the work.
As a stay-at-home Mum, I’m a little surprised to have found myself embracing this style of cooking so much, I adore cooking and can happily spend a few hours pottering away in the kitchen seeing what I can create. However, the one time I don’t have the freedom to potter is dinner time. My eldest is in year 1 at school and that window between collecting him from school and dinner is the time I want to spend with him, helping with his reading and homework, and playing games. I want to have delicious freshly cooked food, but I don’t want to be in the kitchen.
This stew is perfect for those evenings, I’ll start getting it ready after the school run while he’s having a rest, and then it’s cooking away in the oven for 1½ hours while I’m getting on with better things. He absolutely loves it too (OK, he’s not too keen on the pearl barley but a 5 year old who’ll happily eat up the meat and vegetables and then ask for seconds – that’s still a win in my book, and I love the pearl barley so it’s staying in!).
Not only do I save a lot of time pre-dinner to have more time with the boys, it’s all made in one pot so minimal washing up. That means a more relaxed bed time too (and I can indulge the boys in their desire to have “one more story”, or making dinosaur shadows on the wall with my phone torch – I’m still a bit worried that one will give them nightmares).
As a family we don’t tend to eat all that much lamb and beef as it’s more expensive than other meats. However, slow cooking the meat ensures it’s nice and tender meaning that the recipe works well even with the cheaper cuts of meat. Just make sure you keep an eye out for a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo on the packaging which guarantees that the meat you’re buying is farm assured*. As I embrace this slow-cooking approach more and more I expect more beef and lamb to be appearing at the dinner table.
A little bit about my Irish stew
Not being from Ireland, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a really traditional version but here’s what I think it should be like…
It seems most Irish stew recipes call for lamb, carrots, onions and potatoes, all cooked in stock. I’ve cut back on the onion a bit and added swede, just because I love it, especially with carrots. I’ve also gone down the pearl barley route. The pearl barley soaks up all of the flavours from the meat, vegetables and stock and means you get a real burst of flavour in every mouthful, it also helps to thicken the stock meaning that the stew isn’t as watery. I’ve found that even with the pearl barley the stew can be a bit thin so to help thicken it I coat the lamb in flour before browning it in the pan. This small amount of flour is enough to thicken the stock during cooking.
I’m also a little bit naughty in that I add the onions to the lamb while it’s browning to start them cooking too. I suspect that crowding the pan a bit too much doesn’t help brown the lamb as well as it should do, but it does a good enough job for me and it shaves off an additional 5 minutes I’d need to do them separately. If you’ve got a bit more time then feel free to brown the lamb remove it from the pan and set aside, turn the heat down to low and then soften the onions for 5 minutes by themselves.
I discovered a suggestion in this recipe from BBC good food to layer the potatoes on top rather than mixing them in with the other ingredients. This means that that stay quite firm (more like chunks of jacket potato) rather than going soft in the stew and add a nice difference in texture to the other veg. Just remember to season the potatoes with salt before putting the stew into the oven as this will ensure that they’re full of flavour.
Easy Irish Stew
- 600 g diced lamb
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 750 g white potatoes
- 4 large carrots
- 1 small swede
- 1 large onion
- 150 g pearl barley
- 500 ml lamb stock
- A few sprigs of thyme
- Pre-heat your oven to 150ºC/130ºC fan.
- Put the diced lamb into a large bowl, add the flour (1 tbsp) and a pinch of salt and toss the lamb in the flour until it's fully coated.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion, carrot and swede. Chop the potatoes into large chunks (a similar size to how you would make roast potatoes, there's no need to peel them).
- Heat the butter (1 tbsp) in a large oven-proof saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the lamb and onions, cook for about 5 minutes until the lamb has browned and the onions are soft. Turn off the heat and add the carrots, swede, pearl barley and lamb stock. Strip the thyme leaves and sprinkle those in too. Give everything a stir then lay the potatoes on top. Season with salt.
- Put the pan into the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
Any nutritional information provided is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you would like to learn more about how this is calculated.
Free From/Suitable For
Can be made dairy-free by switching the butter for a dairy-free alternative.
The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.