I’m going to put this out there: I’m not generally a huge celebrator of Saint Patrick’s Day. On account of my tenuous Irish heritage, my family ate corned beef and cabbage on the 17th of March and my name is Erin, after all. However, years of serving and tending bar soured me on the typical Americanized “everyone is Irish” style celebration and for a long time I have preferred to stay home and enjoy a pint in peace.
Cut to 2013: Our friend Mick was scandalized to hear that we don’t celebrate The Day at all, and sent us a Saint Patrick’s Day Survival Kit in the post to help us remedy the situation. We were treated to sweets, crisps, badges, DVDs and other sundry Irish delights. Quite an indulgence.
It would be a shame not to celebrate wholeheartedly, so I decided to make a full Irish dinner to go along with our snacks and desserts – Irish stew and soda bread accompanied by creamy pints of Guinness, of course. Is this authentic? I do not know. But it was wonderful!
- 400 grams beef stew meat, cut into 1-2″ chunks
- 400 grams lamb* stew meat, cut into 1-2″ chunks
- flour for dredging
- pinch of salt, pepper, cayenne
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 bottle of Guinness
- 2 tsp mustard (Colman’s or dijon)
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 medium carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
- 400 grams potatoes, washed and cut into 2″ chunks
- 3 parsnips, washed, peeled and cut into strips
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- Sprig of rosemary and thyme or 1 tsp dried of each
- sea salt
*Lamb is traditional, but if you don’t care for it feel free to use just 800 g of beef.
Heat up the oil in a pressure cooker pot over medium heat. Dredge the stew meat in flour with a pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne. Shake off extra flour and brown the stew meat in the oil. You’ll probably have to brown it in two batches. Remove the meat to a bowl.
Lower the heat and sauté the leeks, shallots and garlic until translucent, scraping up any bits of meat/flour in the bottom of the pot. Add the bottle of Guinness, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and vinegar, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes. Return meat to the pot and add enough water to cover. Add the cocoa powder, bay leaf and peppercorns and stir thoroughly.
Put the pressure cooker lid on and turn the heat to high, allowing it to come to full pressure. Turn heat down enough just so that it remains at full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes take it off the heat and quick release the pressure (see your pressure cooker manual for details).
Use the time while the meat is braising in the pressure cooker to wash, peel and prepare the vegetables. After quick releasing the lid, add the vegetables, rosemary, thyme and salt, to taste. Put the lid back on and return to full pressure, then cook for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and allow it to depressurize using the slow release method.
Serve with warm bread and butter. There will be plenty for the next day as well, stew is even better the second day!
Note: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, no worries! Just braise the meat in a large pot over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to an hour before adding the vegetables, then cook for an additional 30-45 minutes over low heat, or until the veggies are tender.
Servings: Eight. 400 calories.