Since Ted Kennedy’s death last week, I’ve been thinking about the Irish. Somewhere around half of my own heritage is Irish–and while I was watching the news coverage about the Senator and his family–it was interesting that as much of an icon of America as the Kennedy family has become–they are so frequently cited for their Irishness. I noted that Ted Kennedy was called “a great big burly Irishman”…or a “fun-loving romantic Irishman”…or his “Irish love of the sea” or “Irish sense of humor” were used to describe his nature.
And when I walked into the library this morning front and center was a display of books on the Kennedy family and in particular, Teddy Kennedy. And I thought that ever since I was a little girl, the Kennedy family has periodically become the center of our country’s attention–sometimes for good, sometimes not–but their influence on our country and our shared fascination about them is really remarkable.
So when it came time to think about dinner, I decided that in honor of Teddy, and the Kennedy’s, I would make a traditional Irish stew. Made with lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions, this famous stew is easy to make and a comfort to eat, especially with a slice or two of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
May your day be touched
By a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.
First make a Lamb Stock:
Ingredients for Lamb Stock
Bones from a 4-5 pound lamb shoulder
2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, sliced in 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup tomato paste
Preparation for Lamb Stock
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the lamb bones, onion, celery and carrots into a roasting pan and roast until the bone is browned and the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Put the bones and the vegetables into a stockpot. Add a cup or two of water to the roasting pan and scrape up all of the brown bits. Pour the liquid into the stockpot. Add 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and add the tomato paste, stirring until combined. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour and a half. Remove the bones and the vegetables and strain the stock.
Ingredients for Stew
1 4-5 pound lamb shoulder, bones removed and reserved to make the stock
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 4 fresh sprigs)
1 bay leaf
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
Preparation for Stew
Cut the lamb into cubes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the lamb, onions, carrots, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring for five minutes or until the onions are wilted.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add lamb stock to cover, the thyme and the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Cook the diced potatoes and turnip in a separate pot of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes. When the stew has finished simmering, add the potatoes and turnips and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Correct the seasoning and serve.