Irish Stew - History & Cooking
The image below shows a traditional Irish fireplace from the 19th century. All cooking was done in the fireplace and various pots were used for cooking. As well as stews, potatoes and soups were cooked in large pots. Soda bread was also cooked in the fire hearth. Pots were hung over the fire from a metal crane. Soda bread was not cooked in an oven as it is today, instead the bread was placed in a pot with a lid and cooked over the glowing embers of a turf fire. The fireplace was the centre of the house, life revolved around the fireplace. The old Irish proverb:
‘níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’
literally means 'there's is no fireplace like your own fireplace' and the modern equivalent is 'There's no place like home'.
Stewing food is an ancient form of cooking. After the Celtic invasion of Ireland, the Irish Celts used Cauldrons as well as spits to cook. The Cauldrons were hug over an open fire and ingredients were cooked by the heat of the fire and not in a conventional oven as they are today. The cauldron can be seen to the left of the image below.
Picture of a Traditional Irish Fireplace including cooking pots
Irish Stew - Ingredients
Irish stew can be made from a variety of meats but is most commonly made from Beef or Lamb and occasionally chicken. Irish Stew can also made with Mutton. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is over a year old. It has a stronger flavour than Lamb, some feel it is also fattier than using Lamb. Modern recipes include the addition of ingredients such as Guinness and beer. The choice of ingredients is down to personal choice, many people use the basic Irish stew recipe as a basis and add their own 'twist' or secret ingredient to make the recipe their own!
Picture of an Irish Sheep -
Mutton is one of the ingredients of Irish Stew
Irish Beef Stew Recipe
Irish stew is a great dish to serve on a cold winters evening! Try cooking Irish stew in a slow cooker. Add the ingredients in the morning and it will be cooked to perfection when you return in the evening, delicious and perfect for today's hectic lifestyle. Serve the stew with warm homemade wheaten bread covered in lots of Irish butter, perfection!
Irish Beef Stew - Ingredients
1lb lean cubed beef
Small head of Curly Kale / Cabbage
salt & pepper
pinch of mixed herbs
Irish Beef Stew - Method
Put the beef in a large saucepan
Sprinkle the mixed spice over the beef
Fill the pan with enough cold water to cover the beef
Bring slowly to the boil
Simmer for an hour
Add pealed and chopped potatoes, carrots, parsnips, curly kale and onions
Season with salt and pepper
Continue cooking until meat and vegetable are soft
Serve with warn home made wheaten bread or cabbage
Picture of Traditional Irish Stew