Rachel Allen's Irish Stew

[Photograph: Georgia Glynn Smith]

As Rachel Allen explains in her new book, Rachel's Irish Family Food, there is no definitive recipe for Irish stew. The meat and vegetable stew is often a household specialty with its own family tricks and tweaks. Allen's take is a no-frills version with a short ingredient list. Her technique, however, builds a good amount of flavor and body with so few components: She picks bone-in lamb shoulder chops for the bulk of the stew, which contributes extra body to the broth and keeps the lamb succulent. In addition to browning the chops, Allen also browns the vegetables to build extra fond and give the usually wan roots more color. The stew is finished with a generous sprinkling of both chives and parsley to give a final burst of freshness.

Why I picked this recipe: Why eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's when you can dig into a rich, hearty lamb stew?

What worked: Cooking the lamb on the bone gave the stew extra body and kept the lamb extra succulent.

What didn't: The carrots turned pretty mushy by the end of cooking, so I'd remove them after browning and then add them back after the first 30-45 minutes of cooking next time. Allen doesn't instruct to brown the meat in batches, but you'll need to do so in order to avoid steaming.

Suggested tweaks: Turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, or any other hearty root vegetable would be a worthwhile addition here.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rachel's Irish Family Food to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

Recipes from the Book

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