Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!
We love St. Patrick's Day! One of the Boston Chef duo is primarily Irish-American (and the other is adopted Irish-American) and growing up, St. Patrick's Day was always celebrated with great Irish gusto by our 100% Irish mother. Now, we live in Boston - a very Irish-American city - and specifically Dorchester down by Adams Village, which is one of the most Irish sections of a very Irish city! When we go down to the pub, many of the patrons aren't Irish-American - they're IRISH, straight from the Emerald Isle. Did you know America's first St. Patrick's Day celebration was held right here in Boston back in 1737? We love everything about the season - the cheerful celebrating, the traditions, the clothing, the Guinness (and the Jameson!)... and, of course, the food!
Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American staple of the holiday and we had some deliciously prepared by the pub mentioned earlier on Friday - boiled corned beef, turnip, a big potato, carrots, and a huge wedge of cabbage. It was the perfect start to the weekend. However, corned beef and cabbage is a specific Irish-AMERICAN invention, not a tradition in the country of Ireland. For that, we turn to a more traditional Irish recipe to help celebrate our wonderful weekend - Irish Lamb Stew.
We procured three pounds of lamb shoulder from the butcher, still on the bone, and played the butcher at home by separating the meat from the bone. The meat from the shoulder went into a big bowl to be lightly tossed with just a couple tbls of flour seasoned with ground black pepper and kosher salt. The bones (with lots of meat still clinging to the sides) go into a bag and into the refrigerator to be used to make a delicious stock the next day - boiled with veggies and spices. Plus, you get to gnaw the last of that meat off the boiled bones! Yum!!!
Meat lightly coated, we started with chopped up bacon in our dutch oven. Once that's rendered, remove the bacon and start browning the lamb in the bacon fat - we did this in two batches. Once browned, remove and throw in a diced medium onion for a minute, then a couple of diced garlic cloves. Once those are ready, deglaze the pan with red wine and scrape up the bits from the botton with your wooden spoon. Then, we're ready to simmer - lamb back in, bacon in, and add about 3-4 cups of stock (we used a mixture of beef and pork stock), some black pepper and a little bit of salt, and a big bay leaf. Combine all of this and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover, sit down and pour yourself a pint - I had a perfect "half and half" made with Guinness and Harp.. not a "black and tan" which is made with Bass!)
Half and Half
We're looking for a total of two hours of simmer time to get a wonderfully tender and flavorful result from the lamb, so work backwards adding the following:
* Chopped carrots and celery - 1 hour left (since we're simmering, not boiling, these will be perfectly done - not mushy)
* Chopped onion - 45 minutes left
* Cubed sweet potato - 30 minutes left (yes, we use sweet potato instead of traditional, our one concession to "diet" here!)
Once that time is up, ladel the chunky stew into a bowl and enjoy!
Erin go bragh!
P.S. - Here it is Sunday and we're watching Jack Hart's South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade Breakfast and making our stock with the reserved lamb bones from yesterday. (Truthfully, I just want to gnaw on the bones after they're boiled!)
Finally, we wanted to take part in the Weekend Cat Blogging that we've watched for the past few weekends.. we have two terrors of our own!
Here, Osiris is supposed to be guarding our pears - but he seems to have fallen asleep on the job!