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Irish Lamb Recipes 1

Connemara and Kerry lambs for the most part are naturally reared on lush-green pastures – old pastures full of flowers and herbs. In former times sheep were kept primarily for their wool.  The meat was only eaten when the animal was old or had died by accident.

Young spring lamb is sweet and succulent and needs absolutely no embellishment, apart from a dusting of salt and pepper and a little fresh Mint Sauce, made from the first  tender sprigs of mint from the cold frame in the kitchen garden.

Irish Stew

Irish stew began as humble fare for country folk who leased small parcels of land where they lived and worked. According to the Irish Food Board, when a farm animal was slaughtered for food in the "big house," the tenants were given the less desirable cuts. These were thrown into a three-legged pot to boil and, when available, vegetables were added. Over the years, the recipe was refined to the use of lamb only as the principal meat in the stew.

Today, in Ireland and elsewhere, the dish is a hearty, one-dish meal with only slight variations. The Irish Food Board adds chopped bacon to its stew, while the Joy of Cooking, a standard reference work for American cooks, spikes its version with thyme and Worcestershire sauce and adds a little barley and heavy cream. The Joy of Cooking also explains the use of potatoes both thinly sliced and halved: "Those that are sliced break down during the long cooking and thicken the stew without the addition of flour. The halved potatoes cook to tender and add soft bite to the stew."

The version we've chosen to give you here is a tried and proven adaptation from a recipe by our favorite Irish cook, Darina Allen. According to her, originally it would have been made in a big black iron pot over the open fire. There's also a lot of controversy as to whether or not you should include carrots. Or peas. But, we always do - the stew looks and tastes better! We also prefer the milder flavor of lamb as opposed to mutton.

3 lbs lamb chops
12 baby or 5 medium carrots
12 baby or 5 medium onions
2 1/2 cups stock (lamb if possible) or water
I package frozen baby peas, defrosted
8 to 10 potatoes
sprig of thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and chives for garnish.

1. Cut the chops into chunks and trim off excess fat. Set aside.
2. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan, discarding the pieces.
3. If the carrots are young and the onions small, leave them whole. Otherwise, prepare and cut them into chunks.
4. Toss the meat in the hot fat until it is slightly browned, then quickly toss the vegetables as well.
5. Layer the meat and vegetables in a large oven-proof casserole, carefully seasoning each layer with salt and pepper.
6. Deglaze the pan with the stock or water and pour into the casserole.
7. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole so that they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes.
8. Add the sprig of thyme, bring to a boil on top of the stove. Cover and transfer to 375f degree oven, or allow to simmer on top of the stove, until the stew is cooked - about 1 1/2 hours, depending on whether the stew is made with lamb or mutton.
9. When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, degrease it and reheat in another saucepan. If you wish, you can thicken it slightly by whisking in a little roux into the boiling liquid. Check seasoning and pour back over the stew.
10. Bring back up to the boiling point, sprinkle with chopped parsley and chives and serve from the pot. Or, for a really appetizing way to present this dish, brown the top layer of the potatoes under the broiler, sprinkle with the herbs, and then serve.

Peter Barry from Irish Cooking, edited by Helen Walsh

Kerry Pies
Adapted from Darina Allen's Festive Food of Ireland

These are the pies that were traditionally served at the Puck Fair in Killorglin. They would also be taken up the hills to the men who were herding the sheep. Originally, the hot-water crust pastry was made with mutton fat which, if you're a die-hard traditionalist, you can still do. Here, butter replaces the mutton fat, and makes for an equally as delicious crust.

1 lb boneless lamb or mutton from the shoulder or leg. (Keep the bones for the stock)
10 oz diced onions
10 oz diced carrots
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups mutton or lamb stock
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups white flour
Pinch salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup water
1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt, for glazing

1. Trim fat from meat, (save the scraps). Cut the meat into small pieces about the size of a lump of sugar.
2. Heat fat in a large sauce pan until it runs. Discard the pieces. Toss the diced vegetables in the fat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove vegetables and add the meat; Toss over high heat until it loses its color.
3. Add the 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour to the meat and cook gently for about 2 or 3 minutes. Gradually blend in the stock. Bring to a boil, stirring from time to time. Return the vegetables to the pan and add the parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and then leave to simmer covered for a half hour to an hour, until ingredients are almost cooked. If using young lamb, it will take about 30 minutes. Mutton will need nearly an hour.
While filling is simmering, prepare the pastry.
4. In a mixing bowl, sieve the flour and salt together and make a well in the center. Dice the butter into a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid all at once into the flour mixture and mix together quickly. Beat until smooth. Allow to cool so it's easier to handle. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate or small, individual pie tins.
5. Allow the filling to cool slightly. Fill the pastry-lined tin(s) with the meat mixture and make lids from the remaining pastry. Mix the beaten egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the edges of the base with the water and egg and put on the pastry lids. Pinch edges tightly together. If desired, roll out pastry trimmings to make leaves or twirls to decorate the top(s) of the pies. Make a hole in the centre of the pie(s) to allow steam to escape. Carefully brush top(s) with remaining wash.
6. Bake the pie(s) at 400F for about 40 minutes.
Serve hot or cold. Serves 6

Image: Photo of mutton pies published with the kind permission of Helen Gaffney who has a a very informative and enteraining site on Brit cuisine. Click here to visit Helen's British Cooking.

Marinated Fresh Irish Lamb with Mint Sauce
Contributed by Hartson Doud

1 leg lamb
1 handful coriander seeds
1 large bunch mint, roughly chopped
1 large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1lb - 2oz natural yogurt
14oz can chick peas, drained & mashed
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
Serve with a selection of vegetables roasted at the same time.

1. Choose a nice leg of spring lamb with a thin layer of fat.
2. Take the bone out of the leg of lamb and open out until it is even thickness, or if you prefer, just ask your butcher to butterfly the joint for you. Score the lamb, season with the salt and pepper.
3. Bash up the coriander seeds with the coriander leaves and mint, add the garlic and the chick peas and mash together. Then mix in the yogurt and seasoning.
4. Massage half of the marinade into the lamb. Reserve half the marinade to use as a sauce once the lamb is cooked. Put the lamb into a plastic bag and seal. Place in the fridge until ready to cook.
5. Remove lamb from the bag and place the meat directly on the oven shelf .
6. Place a tray of cut-up vegetables under the lamb so that the juices drip over them giving a lovely flavour.
7. Roast the lamb and vegetables at 425F for 45 minutes.

Mint Sauce:
Put two teaspoons of sugar and one heaping tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint into a sauce boat and add 2-1/2 fluid ounces of boiling water and one tablespoon white wine vinegar  or lemon juice.  Allow to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie
Contributed by Hartson Dowd

In a land where sheep were traditionally a primary food supply, it is not surprising that lamb is the foundation for many traditional farmhouse dishes. Below is the recipe for "Shepherd's Pie". You may substitute ground beef for lamb if you like - but then the dish is known as "Cottage Pie".

1 pound minced lamb
1 1/2 pounds potatoes
Large onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Bay leaf
2 carrots, diced
1/8 cup flour
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/8 cup butter
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup lamb or beef stock
1/2 cup cheese

Fry the lamb with the chopped onion, bay leaf, sliced mushrooms and diced carrots for 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and stir for a minute. Slowly blend in the stock and tomato puree. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and boils. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and place in an ovenproof serving dish.

At the same time, cook the potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender. Drain well, mash with the butter and milk and mix well. Spread on top of the lamb mixture and sprinkle over with the grated cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees.

Image: Gingham Kitchen from All Posters

For more Lamb recipes click here Page Two.


Thu, Jul 9, 2015

"...the freshest of food and
the oldest of drink"
- Irish Proverb

The New Irish Table
by Margaret Johnson

Margaret Johnson’s love of Ireland permeates page after glorious page of mouthwatering Irish dishes, from Smoked Salmon Chowder to Raspberry Buttermilk Tarts. Lavish color photographs of the food, the landscapes, and the people are woven through the text, making The New Irish Table the next best thing to sitting down to dinner in Ireland itself.
Click here for New Irish Table.


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