We live near downtown and every year on March 17th the city holds a parade to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The parade is always on the 17th, even if it’s mid-week, and Irish families and fun-seekers from all over take off school and work to celebrate this special day. We aren’t Irish, but it’s hard to avoid the festivities when they are nearby, so we figure it’s best to simply join in whenever we can. This year the 17th falls on a Saturday, which means it’s certain to draw more people than usual.
Before we go to a crowded event certain to have greasy food vendors and candy, I like to make sure we’ve all eaten. I find it helps minimize those cravings for hot dogs and mini-donuts! The parade’s at noon, but before we leave home I’m planning to serve up hearty bowls of Irish Stew for an early lunch.
The stew is quite easy to make. It has a lot of good veggies in it, so you’ll need to start with some chopping. The nice thing about this recipe is that ALL the veggies go into the pot at the same time, so I just chopped them and piled them into a large measuring bowl. Begin by slicing the leek lengthwise.
Then chop into ¼-inch slices.
Chop an inch or two into the dark green part of the leek, as this portion usually has a lot of lighter green underneath. Discard the remaining dark greens, which tend to be tough when sautéed, or save them for another use such as making stock.
Put all the cut leek pieces into a colander and rinse them well. Leeks are infamous for hiding dirt between their many layers, and I find this method of chopping first and then rinsing works well to clean them. Make sure all the leek pieces get rinsed, working out any dirt you find between the layers.
Next, chop the potatoes. I always cut the potatoes lengthwise in half first, then I lay the potato halves flat and cut them into (roughly) 1-inch pieces.
Pile the potatoes into the bowl, and move on to coarsely chopping the onions …
… and then chop the carrots into 1-inch pieces.
Now you are ready to cook the stew. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and, when it’s sizzling, add the beef and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. I purchased beef stew meat already cut up into pieces, but you could also buy the beef and cut it yourself.
After 5-7 minutes, the beef should be nice and browned. Remove it to a plate or bowl and set aside.
Now it’s veggie time! Melt another tablespoon of butter in the pan—leave all the juices or browned bits—and then add the bowl of veggies all at once.
After another 5-7 minutes, the veggies should be softening. Now it’s time to add the beef back to the pot. Also add the spices including thyme, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper.
Next add the tomato juice, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and, the special Irish ingredient … stout!
Once you have all the ingredients in the pot, just bring it to a bowl, then turn the heat to low and cook for 1½-2 hours. Check to make sure it is just barely simmering; if not turn it up slightly.
You’ll know the Irish Stew is ready when the beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender and the broth is rich and flavorful. While the stew was simmering, I whipped up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. (Note that I varied the bread recipe by decreasing the sugar to 1 tablespoon, omitting the currants, and adding a heaping teaspoon of thyme.) The Irish stew and bread was quite a delicious combination!
To prepare for parade day, the girls painted their dad’s face with a shamrock before we all sat down to enjoy a bowl of stew. We’re ready!
If you are going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade, we highly recommend this excellent Irish Stew. It’s even better reheated the next day, so you can make it the day before if you like. If you try it, or have some fun St. Patrick’s memories to share, please leave a comment below—we’d love to hear about your adventures!
Check back in a few days when Alex shares an adorable spring cupcake idea…
Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.