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An bhfuil spúnóg agat?

Posted on 2006.01.22 at 15:05

We took a trip to Ireland without ever leaving our home.  Imagination is a wonderful thing.  We started with a traditional Irish breakfast.  Nice and hearty... the Irish breakfast like kings!  Or... rather...  I thought we could start with a traditional Irish breakfast until I started reading more about it.  The eggs, sausages (bangers), Irish bacon (rashers) fried tomatoes and Irish soda bread would have been a flavorful morning meal for sure, if it weren't for the necessity of including Black and White breakfast puddings to the pan for authenticity's sake.   After reading more about Black Pudding (a sausage-shaped mixture of pigs blood, oats and various spices) and White Pudding (a variation of black pudding, substituting liver for the pig's blood)~ much like liverwurst I'd imagine [which I wouldn't really mind.]  I decided to spare my family the breakfast portion of the day and focus solely on the evening meal.

I skipped ahead through the hours in my mind, imagining the Irish landscape as the air began to chill and the fog rolled in.  Walking along the cobbled path, or dirt lane with my rough knotted walking stick in hand, feeling the dampness as it soaks through my coat and chills my skin.  I can see my breath as I stamp my feet before heading finally into the cottage after checking the livestock and final chores for the evening. 

The warmth of the fire and the aroma of Lamb Stew creates an inviting atmosphere as my mouth begins to water in anticipation.  A good hearty meal to warm weary bones from the inside out.

At which point my imagination fades and I settled upon making an Authentic Irish Lamb Stew and Home-baked Beer Bread to serve for my family's dinner.  It turned out well, although I personally will omit the bay leaf next time.  There was a certain taste to it that I didn't like, and my husband had to pinpoint it for me.  Every time I've cooked something with a bay leaf I didn't like it.  I did like the flavor of the Lamb and Vegetables, and it was a great experience.  We even invited a red-haired guest for good measure! Here's a recipe I got from an Irish friend. 

Authentic Irish Lamb Stew

1 1/2 lbs thickly sliced bacon, diced
6 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut in 2" cubes (I used 3 lb bone-in lamb and it was excellent!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c water
4 c beef broth
2 tsp sugar
4 c carrots, diced
2 onions cut into bite sized chunks
3 potatoes, cubed
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves (which I will omit next time)
1 c beer (you can use O'Douls non-alcholic)

Saute bacon in large frying pan; remove bacon and save drippings in the pan to fry the lamb in.

In a very large bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. Add the lamb and toss it to coat it evenly. Brown the lamb in the bacon drippings. Remove the meat and set aside.

Add garlic and the 1 chopped onion to the frying pan and saute until onion is golden. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well with everything scraping the side of the pan.

If you choose, place all ingredients in Crock-pot on High for 4-6 hours or Low 8-10 hours

Put the cooked lamb into a large stockpot. Add the garlic & onion, bacon, beef broth and sugar.
Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is very tender. Add carrots and remaining ingredients and simmer for another 20-30 mintues until the carrots and potatoes are tender. 

Discard bay leaves before serving.  Makes about 10 bowls of stew. Tastes even better the next day.

This beer bread was my favorite part of the meal.  It was absolutely delicious!  I'd had some beer bread at a very trendy Irish (family)pub that has been a favorite place for our family.  The restaurant uses a real wood-fire for much of their cooking/baking.  I honestly liked this recipe, cooked in my oven, as well as the specialty beer bread from this restaurant!  Mmmm.... tasty!

Homemade Beer Bread

  • 1 Tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 12 oz (1 can) Beer
  • 3 Tbsp of melted butter (for use after baking)

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl, add beer and mix with wooden spoon.  Batter will be sticky.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  After baking, drizzle immediately with 3 TBSP of melted butter.  Bread will be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.

I had a nice "Wind on the Moors" CD, but forgot to put it on during the meal, and I also forgot my little list of Irish sayings we were going to learn... to make it seem even more authentic.  After our meal Allison tried to learn how to dance a nice little Irish jig. 

I can't wait until our next THEME dinner!

As the Irish would say...

May your glass be ever full
  May the roof over your head be always strong,
    And may you be in heaven
      Half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
      - Irish drinking toast


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