Guinness Lamb Stew with Vegetables
Admittedly, I don’t do much to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (other than trying to remember to dress my kids in something green) but I do love the food. To that end, I’ve got two Irish recipes for you this week. First up is this hearty Guinness Lamb Stew with Vegetables. I made it over the weekend for a big family dinner and everyone loved it (except for my daughter, who of course preferred leftover pizza). The lamb is seared and then braised in a flavorful Guinness-spiked broth until it almost falls apart, and the vegetables are added at just the right time so they don’t get mushy. If you like my Beef Stew with Carrots and Potatoes, you’ll love this recipe too.
Begin by selecting the right cut of meat, which is lamb shoulder. Locally, I found it at Whole Foods but it was whole so I had to ask the butcher to cut it up for me. Be sure not to buy leg of lamb — it’s best for roasting or grilling, and won’t get tender in a stew. Have your butcher trim as much of the excess fat off the meat as possible, or you can do it yourself when you get home. You can see some of the excess fat in the photo below where the yellow arrow is. Simply loosen those little flaps of fat with a knife and they pull right off.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and then brown it in batches in a large pot or Dutch oven.
Be sure the oil is very hot and don’t crowd the pan or the meat won’t sear properly. This step is a bit time consuming but important because it caramelizes the surface of the meat and adds wonderful depth of flavor to the stew.
Set the meat aside, then add the onions and garlic to the pot, along with a few tablespoons of water to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes more.
Add the lamb back to the pot and sprinkle it with flour, which will thicken the broth as it cooks.
Cook and stir for for a few minutes until the flour dissolves.
Add the braising liquid, which is simply beef stock, Guinness, water and herbs.
Bring the broth to a boil, then cover and simmer for about an hour and twenty minutes.
Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking until the meat is tender and the vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes more. Be sure to stir it a few times so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
As you can see below, the broth thickens up nicely as it continues to cook. Right before serving, stir in the frozen green peas. They’ll defrost and cook right in the stew.
You can definitely make this stew a day or two ahead, as the flavor only improves. Just note that the broth thickens up quite a bit in the fridge so you may need to add some water to thin it out.
Finally, just had to include this photo of my sweet lab, Miles. If the light is right, sometimes I photograph my dishes outside and he’s always right alongside hoping for a taste. Of course he always gets one…I can’t resist that face!
- 2.5 - 3 pounds lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Guinness
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water (plus 2 tablespoons more for cooking onions and garlic)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks on the diagonal
- 1 pound small white boiling potatoes (baby yukons), cut in half
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- Pat the lamb dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Brown the lamb in three batches, adding one more tablespoon of oil for each batch. Do not crowd the pan and let the meat develop a brown crust before turning with tongs. It should take 5-8 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned meat to large bowl and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic and 2 tablespoons of water to the pot. Cook until the onions are soft, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of pan, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes more.
- Add the lamb with its juices back to the pan and sprinkle with flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the Guinness, beef broth, water, bay leaf, rosemary sprig and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for one hour and twenty minutes.
- Add the carrots and potatoes to the stew, then cover and continue simmering until the vegetables are cooked and the meat is very tender, 30-40 minutes. (Be sure to stir a few times to prevent vegetables from sticking to bottom.)
- Remove the bay leaf and rosemary sprig, and then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If serving right away, add the frozen peas and cook until the peas are warmed through. Otherwise, let the stew cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Reheat gently on the stovetop and add the peas right before serving.
This stew can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated gently on the stovetop. Just be sure to add the peas right before serving so they stay fresh. Also, the broth will thicken in the fridge so it may be necessary to thin it with a bit of water (add it little by little).