Traditional Lamb Stew

From Chef McMahon’s Notes

Lamb Stew, which is also known as Irish Stew, is probably the dish that is most-associated with Ireland. While carrots appear in some recipes, purists refute their use. McMahon notes that the renowned Irish food writer, Florence Irwin, relates that Lamb Stew originated in the cabins of tenant farmers. Oftentimes, when a landlord slaughtered and butchered a sheep, its off-cuts (neck, ribs, etc.) were provided to the tenants. The off-cuts went into a pot along with whatever else on hand, typically potatoes, onions and perhaps, carrots. While lamb was the preferred addition, pork and other meat were often substituted, due to the fact that a sheep’s wool was more valuable than the meat it could provide.

Jordan Bush Notes

I used a 6-quart Dutch oven, which offered adequate volume. A 7-quart capacity would be more ideal if you’re using small- to medium-sized potatoes and large onions. A stockpot would be required if you want to double the recipe. Set aside the lid to reduce liquid throughout the simmer.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Serves 4


Note: amounts reflect American measures

  • 2-1/4-3-1/4 1b. lamb neck (shoulder), on the bone
  • 4 onions. sliced
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 10-12 potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Sea Salt
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)


Put all the ingredients except the potatoes into a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Add the potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat falls from the bone. Season to taste.

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