1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 -2 lbs nice lamb for stewing. A mix of on and off the bone is nice!
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 bottle of Guinness beer, or other really nice stout
1 cup of fine red wine – the heartier, the better
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried thyme, some rosemary if you like it
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 bay leaves
1 pound baby potatoes, red, golden, purple, whatever. Halve them. Feel free to use more if the family loves taters. You can also use parsnips and turnips!
2 cups baby carrots
Some pearl onions or shallots if you like them, too
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat some olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb in batches; I like to dust the pieces with light flour mixed with salt and pepper, because I like a thicker stew. But if you like a soupier version, skip the flour. Work in batches to brown the meat nicely on as many sides as possible. (Some butchered chunks may not cooperate)
Remove the meat from the pot or dutch oven and wipe clean if you have any scorched areas. Add more oil if necessary and sauté the onion. I like to chop it in large sections; a dice will vanish into the broth of this stew.
As the onion gets translucent, add the garlic and continue to sauté for at least a minute or two, letting the aroma rise. Toss in the red wine and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits, then add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves; stir until the paste is dissolved.
Add the meat back into the pot on top of this nicely bubbling mix and then pour the Guinness over the whole pile. Add beef stock to bring the volume or liquid up, stir, and then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low/medium, cover tightly and let it simmer for at least an hour. You can stir it occasionally, but otherwise, don’t bother it. (You can also put a dutch oven into the oven at this stage, or keep it on the stove top.)
Take the halved potatoes and the carrots (and turnips and parsnips if you like – or shallots, too…hmmm…) Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme or rosemary, and either roast them in the oven for about 20-40 minutes, or sauté them until they get browned. (If you like, you can use butter for this instead of olive oil. I don’t.) This really makes a difference in the flavor of the stew and browning the potatoes gives them a nice texture that doesn’t fall apart easily even after reheating. You don’t have to COOK them at this stage, only brown them. They will continue to cook in the stew.
After the stew has cooked for at least an hour, add the veggies. You can cover and cook another hour, then uncover and simmer until the lamb is tender enough to fall off the bones. I simmer the lamb on one day, let that sit overnight, then skim the fat off the top. On day two, I roast the veggies and add them to the stew that I have simmered for an hour on the stove top. Everyone knows stew is better in day two, so I just divide the cooking up this way for my convenience.
If you can find them, remove the bay leaves before serving. Have a container for the bones as you are getting ready to serve – if done right, just spooning this stew up will slide meat right off the bones!