The World Famous Irish Stew

Perhaps the most famous Irish dish is the world famous ‘Irish stew’, or ‘Stobhach Gaelach’ if using the Irish language itself. Irish stew has been a staple dish in the Irish diet for hundreds of years and primarily consists of potatoes, mutton/lamb, carrots, onions and herbs. There are many variations on this dish with some chefs preferring to use parsley, others using alternative herbs such as chives, thyme, rosemary or bay leaves; other vegetables may also be added, such as turnips or celery, as well as pearl barley. Other ingredients include lamb stock, salt and pepper, to ensure that the meal is packed full of flavour.

Many Irish cooks insist on using the neck of lamb, being the most traditional part of the animal to use in this stew. Many also believe that the meat of the older sheep, mutton, contains more taste due to the additional fat, however, this will take longer to cook and needs to be taken into consideration when cooking the stew. You will also get chefs arguing over the best choice of potatoes to use, with some opting for the Pentland Javelin and others choosing the Maris Peer.

Potatoes have traditionally been the main source of carbohydrates for the Irish, with this perhaps being highlighted when they suffered from the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1849. At the time, two-fifths of the population were entirely dependent on this crop for their survival. Ireland also has the been given name of ‘the Emerald Isle’ due to its rolling green countryside making it ideal land to farm the sheep required to make this stew. The Irish stew is a part of the Irish national heritage and is a must for anyone visiting Ireland. It would be a sacrilege to visit Ireland without trying at least one Irish stew and a pint of Guinness.