I wouldn’t be truly Irish if I didn’t grow up eating copious amounts of Irish stew – that’s how you measure your Irishness you know, so of course, I know this recipe like the back of my hand. Not only did my mum, grandmother and grandad all make this in their way. I have continued to make Irish beef stew as well as vegetable stew, both of which always reminds me of home.
For me, Irish stew also reminds me of cold winter evenings, when you came home in the evenings when the sun had set as early as 4 pm, and all you wanted was a big bowl of comfort food. The smell of Irish stew alone would bring me back to those days and as soon as winter comes – or any cold evening, I loved to make a big pot of stew. So, if you are curious about what a traditional Irish Stew looks like, then make sure to follow this recipe, which is guaranteed to warm the cockles on a winter’s evening.
Irish Stew History
As you might have guessed, this dish originated when Irish people would make the most out of leftovers in their household, which is where almost all of our recipes originate from, but in the old days, there was no such thing as wasting food, which is to be greatly admired. This national dish dates back to the beginning of the 19th Century when poverty was prevalent all over the country, and people did what they could to survive, with what they had.
Many Irish meals contain potatoes because that was the one crop that provided all the nutrition locals needed while being filling, as well as having the perfect soil and climate to grow the crop – until the potato blight dramatically changed this.
When it comes to using potatoes, Irish Stew is no exception to the rule, and you will find the stew just packed with delicious Irish spuds, as well as many other Irish vegetables. The dish was traditionally made with mutton – which is an older sheep, and generally a cheaper cut of meat at that, which meant it took longer to cook than the stews of today.
These days many people like to use lamb or beef for their stews, but you may come across mutton stew in some parts of the country, and although this national dish can be found on all Irish menus around the island any time of the year, it is traditionally eaten on winter evenings.
Irish Stew and Guiness
If you ask any Irish person, or non-Irish person for that matter, what is the one dish that represents the country, many of them will say Irish stew. This dish has become world-famous and can be found in all corners of the world, thanks to the Irish immigrants, who took their beloved recipes with them when they moved off in search of a better life all those years ago.
This typical Irish dish is created using a variety of ingredients which can easily be found, and truth be told, it is not the hardest to prepare, but rather it just takes some time and patience to cook to perfection. Irish Stew is made up of potatoes, lamb (traditionally) beef or mutton, carrots, onion, broth, celery and parsnip, but like many Irish recipes, these ingredients are commonly altered, and it is common to see Guinness Stout as part of the recipe.
There is no right or wrong way to make Irish stew, as long as you get lots of authentic flavours, take the time to prepare it and let it have its time to cook, you will be on to a winner.
- 700g of diced marbled beef
- 6 large potatoes
- 500ml beef broth
- 500g peeled carrots
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 large white onion
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 can/bottle of Guinness Stout
- 2 large celery stalks
- 2 parsnips
- Salt, Pepper and Parsley to taste
Step 1: You will begin by frying the marbled beef chunks (coated in flour) in some olive oil until they are golden brown, so take your time with this and make sure you allow them to cook properly. Fry off the diced onions and garlic in the beef juice, which you will add to the large pot a little later on.
Tip: There is no need to buy an expensive cut of meat, marbled beef will do just fine.
Step 2: Get yourself a large pot, big enough to fit all the ingredients in, and begin by peeling and dicing the potatoes, carrots, celery and parsnip, before adding it all together.
Step 3: Separately, prepare your beef broth and add this to the large pot full of vegetables, before topping it off with the beef and onions you cooked earlier. Be sure to add in some salt and pepper here.
Tip: Scrape the bottom of the pan, to get the remainder of the beef and onion, which will enhance the flavour of the stew.
Step 4: Add in the can or bottle of Guinness Stout, and make sure this is authentic Guinness, not another brand of Stout, as this will change the authentic flavour of the stew.
Step 5: This next step takes a lot of patience so make sure to prepare this stew before you become hungry because you will need to bring it to a boil and then let the stew simmer for around 1.5 -2 hours until it is ready.
Step 6: Once the Irish beef stew is cooked to perfection, and smells divine, it is ready to be eaten, so place it in a bowl, top it off with some sprigs of parsley, and serve with some Irish Soda Bread, a pint of Guinness and a smile.
Tip: You will be surprised how good this stew tastes over the next few days, so make a big batch and enjoy.