Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Irish Lamb Stew

I had big plans for St. Patrick's Day this year. After my first successful attempt at making corned beef and cabbage, I had a couple of new ideas that I was going to try out to make it even better. I was going to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work Friday night to buy my package of corned beef and some cabbage. I already had carrots and potatoes.

But Friday afternoon at work I was talking to my boss about my plans, and when I mentioned my plans she startled me by slapping her forehead. Well, a couple of weeks ago we were talking about St. Patrick's Day and corned beef and she was giving me her method of cooking it (which is where most of my new ideas have come from), and she told me that in Chicago especially, Vienna Corned Beef is the only way to go, and she always gets hers at Costco. I figured if my Jewel carried Vienna Corned Beef then I would get some of that to try.

When I told Patty my plans, it reminded her that she had bought me some corned beef when she was getting hers at Costco, but had forgotten to bring it to the office with her.

Now isn't that the nicest thing you've ever heard? I was really touched, not only that she bought it for me, but that she had remembered our conversation enough to think to do it. And that's the kind of person she is.

But what to do in the meantime? I did briefly consider buying one anyway so I could have it on St. Patrick's Day. But I had some lamb stew meat in the freezer and my thoughts turned toward that other Irish dish, Lamb Stew. I bought the lamb since I started Operation Freezer Burn so it doesn't officially count for that, but I'm still putting way too many new things in there for all of the old things I'm using up, so it's all good.

I have a couple of lamb stew recipes I've been playing with over the years, but I've had trouble getting them thick enough lately. Instead of tweaking any of those any more, I went back to my old standard, The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook's Beef Stew recipe. The most obvious substitution, of course, was the lamb. I also used chicken stock instead of water and bouillon. I think beef stock would work, but I wouldn't use bouillon, especially after reading Elizabeth David's opinion of it in Is There a Nutmeg in the House. I substituted Pickapeppa sauce for the Worcestershire, mainly because that's what I had on hand, although it's a nice substitute if you're vegetarian.

So I have two reasons to thank Patty. I had a rich, thick, delicious stew this weekend, and I have a beautiful slab of corned beef sitting in my refrigerator, waiting for next weekend.
Home Cookin Chapter: Beef and Lamb

Beef Stew
Serves 8 to 10

2-1/2 pounds beef for stew
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup salad oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups water
4 beef-bouillon cubes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1/4 tsp pepper
5 medium potatoes, cut in chunks
1 16-ounce bag carrots, cut in chunks
1 10-ounce package frozen peas

Cut meat into 1-1/2 inch chunks. On waxed paper, coat stew meat with flour; reserve leftover flour. In 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat oil.

Brown meat all over in oil, a few pieces at a time; remove pieces as they brown. Reduce heat to medium.

To drippings in pan, add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring, until onion is almost tender. Stir in reserved flour.

Gradually add water, bouillon, salt, Worcestershire, pepper; cook, stirring, until mixture is slightly thickened.

Add meat; heat to boiling, stirring. Reduce heat to low; cover; simmer 2-1/2 hours until almost tender, stirring occasionally.

Add potato and carrot chunks; over medium heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Stir in frozen peas; cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve immediately.

from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, by Zoe Coulson (Hearst Books, 1980)

Exported from Home Cookin 5.4 (www.mountain-software.com)

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