Irish Stew with a French Twist

Irish Stew with a French Twist (serves 2 to 4)

I came up with this last night. Stew is a nice cold-weather dish, the butcher had lamb stew meat yesterday morning, and I had some herbs left from Christmas. This is a good work- or school-night dish because you can leave it unattended while it cooks. You can also make this with beef stew meat if you don’t care for lamb, or lamb is unavailable or beyond your budget. All amounts are approximate, and “cubes” are not perfectly squared-off dice, but chunks of about the size indicated. Last time I checked, they weren’t growing square turnips.

Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 90 minutes
Equipment needed: Knife; glass one-quart liquid measuring cup; cutting board; vegetable peeler; tongs; wooden spoon; non-reactive metal pot, with a lid, big enough to hold all the meat pieces in one layer

1 lb lamb stew meat in cubes (about 1-1/2″–the butcher should be able to give it to you pre-cut)
2 tablespoons bland-flavored oil
1-1/2 cups beef stock
1-1/2 cups red wine
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 turnip, about 8 ounces, peeled and cubed (about 3/4″ cubes)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2″ slices
about 8 ounces of white potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3/4″ cubes)
salt
fresh ground pepper
1 spring fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme

If the meat is fatty, trim off most but not all of the fat. You need a little fat for flavor and tenderness.

In a pot with a lid large enough to hold all the meat in a single layer, heat the oil, then brown the meat on all sides, using the tongs to turn the meat.

While the meat is browning, put the wine and beef stock in a 1-quart glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

After the meat is browned, pour the boiling wine and beef stock into the pot with the meat. The hot liquid may spatter when it goes into the pot, so be careful.

Stir the meat and liquid with a wooden spoon. When the liquid is boiling in the pot, reduce the heat and put the lid on the pot. Simmer gently for one hour. Peek under the lid once in a while to be sure the liquid has not cooked away. If the liquid is running out, add more wine and/or stock to the pot.

While the meat is simmering, prepare the vegetables. You will have the vegetables ready before you need them, so cover them with damp cloth or paper towels while they sit on the cutting board. This keeps the potatoes and turnips from discoloring and tames the onion fumes.

After the meat has simmered one hour, add the prepared vegetables, salt, pepper and herbs to the pot. Stir, let the liquid come back to the boil, reduce the heat again, put the lid back on the pot and simmer another 30 minutes, again checking once in a while to be sure your liquid has not cooked off completely. The vegetables will be fork-tender when the stew is done. Serve warm with French bread, biscuits, or dumplings.

(c) 2015 Susie Allison Litton. All rights reserved.

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