Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gloria's Crock Pot Irish Stew

Crock Pot Irish Stew
Some folks like to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by making Irish stew.  Traditional Irish stew is usually made with lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions. My version uses a combination of lamb and beef, as well as a variety of different root vegetables plus cabbage. Feel free to use only lamb or only beef if you prefer, and there's no reason not to use venison instead. As to the root veggies, if you see some that you don't like then use ones you enjoy and adjust the quantities accordingly. To make substituting simpler, I've listed the quantities I used as well as the amounts by weight and volume (and the recipe is sufficiently forgiving that you can use a little more or a little less).  Also, I didn't peel the potato, but most Irish stew recipes call for all the root veggies to be peeled.

For the liquid, I used a bottle of Guinness beer because it's from Ireland, and homemade poultry broth (chicken and turkey) from my freezer. You can use a different beer, or substitute an additional 12 oz. of broth (1 1/2 cups) if you'd rather not use beer.  Beef broth will provide a more robust flavor, and vegetable broth imparts a lighter flavor.

You'll want to begin this recipe in the morning because it takes some time to brown the meat on the stove (essential for best flavor) and to chop all the vegetables. Once everything is in the crock pot or slow cooker, you can pretty much ignore it, or stir it just once or twice if you wish. Plan on letting the stew cook for 5 to 6 hours on High, or 10 to 12 hours on Low, and somewhere in between if your crock pot or slow cooker has an alternating Hi-Low setting.

Browning stew meat
Browning the meat
2 lbs stew meat (lamb, beef or combination), cut into 1" chunks.
1 to 2 Tbs oil or bacon fat (or combination)
1 medium rutabaga (approx 1 lb or 2 1/2 cups chopped )
1 large russet potato (approx 3/4 lb or 2 1/2 cups chopped)
2 medium parsnips (approx 1/2 lb or 2 cups chopped)
2 small carrots (approx 1/4 lb or 1 cup chopped)
2 medium onions (I forgot to weigh/measure, sorry!)
1 small cabbage (approx. 1 lb)
1 bottle Guinness beer
3 cups broth (beef, poultry, vegetable or combination)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
stew vegetables
Onions, cabbage & root vegs
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp marjoram OR 3/4 tsp oregano

Heat the oil or fat in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the meat on all sides. While the meat is browning, peel the root vegetables and chop into small chunks, about 1 to 1 1/2" (cut the onions into wedges instead of cubes). Trim the cabbage and cut into thin wedges.

Irish stew recipe
Irish stew is simmering
Remove the browned meat from the skillet using a slotted spoon and add the meat to your crock pot or slow cooker.  Add the vegetables, herbs & seasonings, beer and broth, then use a large spoon to stir (I like using a long-handled wooden spoon). Cover and set your crock pot or slow cooker temperature according to your desired cooking time (High for 5-6 hrs, Low for 10-12 hrs, Alt Hi/Lo for 8-9 hrs), then let it cook, stirring once or twice.  Serves a whole bunch of people, freezes well, and the leftovers taste quite good. 

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day with traditional Irish foods, you may be interested in my Irish soda bread recipe, or our Irish Cheese Assortment, or one of these Irish Food Gift Baskets & Gift Sets. And if you enjoy spicy foods, you might my Spicy Irish Stew recipe posted a while back.

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