Irish Stew.

Stobhach Gaelach – or, Irish Stew to those who do not speak Erse – is the signature dish of Ireland and its origins go back into the mists of time. For that reason there is not and can never be a definitive recipe for Irish Stew, but traditionalists would have it made from the neck chops of a sheep, or sometimes of a goat. The defining features seem to be that it should be a stew rather than a casserole – i.e., cooked in top of the stove rather than in it, and it should be prepared from sheepmeat or goat, and diced root vegetables. Notwithstanding this caveat, I personally add a certain amount of green in the form of chopped celery and peas – but then, I am but a Sassenach Philistine.



¼ cup lard.

1 kg diced lamb.

2 medium onions, peeled, chopped.

Salt and pepper to taste.

2 tblsp plain flour.

2 cups beef stock.

¼ cup pearl barley.

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced.

1 stalk celery, finely chopped.

1 large carrot, diced.

1 large parsnip, peeled and diced.

1 ½ cup green peas.

A little more lard.

3 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced, to garnish.



Heat the lard in a large pot and brown the meat all over. Add the onions, the salt and the pepper and cook, stirring for another 5-6 minutes or until the onion is soft and starting to flake apart. Stir in the flour then add the stock, stirring continuously until a smooth sauce is obtained. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the barley. Cover and cook gently for 60 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the vegetables, stir through until all is fully combined. Top up with a little water if required so that the vegetables are just covered. Bring up to the boil again, cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for a further 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Towards the end of the cooking, heat a little more lard in a small pan over a hot flame and fry the sliced cabbage. Drain and keep hot. Dish out the stew into deep plates garnished with the fried cabbage.


Serve with: Chunks of freshly baked soda bread to mop up the sauce.


Serves: 6-8.


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