An Irishman’s Wife’s Traditional Irish Stew Recipe

Because what’s the good of an Irishman’s Wife, if she doesn’t have a good, hearty slow-cooked Irish Stew recipe up her sleeve?

A winter and St. Patrick’s Day staple. As I write this, it’s a freezing cold night. Snow is falling, and we’re all hoping it settles so we can have a snow day tomorrow! 

A black cast iron pot of an Irishman's Wife's Traditional Irish Lamb stew recipe

I always serve this traditional Irish stew with mashed potatoes or colcannon. Crusty bread or Irish soda bread smothered with smoked butter works a treat too. For me, a slow-cooked hearty stew is the ultimate comfort food. Yep, there is a lot of potato in this one, but if it were up to the Irishman in our house, there would be potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I have learned anything from being married to an Irishman, it’s that the Irish basically class potatoes as a food group!

What you are going to love about this slow-cooked Irish lamb stew recipe

While it takes a few hours to cook, it’s a simple recipe. A set-and-forget kind of dinner. Perfect for a lazy Sunday milling around the house. Once the prep is done, it’s in the oven for a good few hours of slow-cooking. Bonus… your house will smell AH-MAZ-ING!

This is a big batch, family recipe, enough to feed 6-8 people. It’s a good one to serve with a few friends around the table on a winter’s night with a few bottles of red wine. Or just keep it all for yourself. For best results when cooking a stew, I recommend cooking the day before and letting the flavor develop. It will taste so much better on days 2, 3 & 4 – cook once and eat for days… hello meal prep superstar and rehashed midweek dinners!

It’s hearty with a capital “H”. We’re talking warm the cockles of your heart stuff.



An authentic Irish Stew is full of pantry staples and cheaper cuts of meat. No fancy ingredients here!

Here’s a few simple ingredients you need to get started

  • Fresh Herbs – thyme, flat leaf parsley, bay leaf. The season dictates whether these are fresh from the garden or dried. Both will work perfectly, although I always use fresh parsley for its freshness and flavor.

  • Lamb Shoulder – trimmed and cut roughly into 4cm chunks. Can’t get your hands on lamb shoulder? Try another type of lamb stew meat suitable for slow cooking or cuts of beef like beef cheeks or chuck steak for an Irish beef stew instead! We make both in our family depending on what’s available.

  • Beef Stock – some people prefer chicken stock when making Irish stew. There’s a bit of debate over what is best but I sit on the beef broth side of the fence. Feel free to substitute if it’s more to your liking.


  • Worcestershire sauce. The essential ingredient to a traditional Irish stew. It’s that little bit of sauce that adds so much extra flavor. There is no substitution!

  • Pantry staples – olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

All the ingredients you need to make Irish Stew.

Equipment you will need

When it comes to what to cook a traditional stew in, nothing beats a cast iron French oven (or Dutch oven). I love my cast iron pots (we have a relationship!). Most of my cookware is Le Creuset enameled cast iron, although I do own a smattering of other brands too like Chasseur, Lodge & Staub. This stuff is the bomb for slow cooking, however, it just hates high heat and so to render that fat, good, and proper in the recipe, either use a frypan that is suitable for medium-high heat or heat your French oven on low heat with oil covering the base for a couple of minutes until it’s hot enough to cook in.

Enamel cast iron retains heat when it’s on a direct heat source, emitting far less than it takes in. Therefore by heating up your cookware for a couple of minutes, you can get the same result without causing thermal shock to your cookware and causing permanent damage.

Could you cook this Irish stew in a slow cooker? Instant pot, crock pot, or pressure cooker? Absolutely! Cooking times obviously need to be adjusted for each cooking vessel, but if slow-cooker Irish stew is more your thing, then go for it!

How to slow-cook lamb stew in the oven (in a Dutch oven)

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°c.


  2. Warm up a cast iron casserole with a little oil. Once hot, add a few lamb pieces. Brown lamb on all sides. Cook the lamb in batches to avoid overcrowding in the pot and the meat stewing. After each batch is cooked, remove the meat from the pan, place on a plate, and set aside. See those little cooked browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot? Those crispy bits add so much flavor to stews and sauces, so don’t worry if anything sticks or if there are any little burnt bits in the pan. It’s all flavor!


  3. Add a little more olive oil (if needed) and the onions and leeks to the Dutch oven. Saute on low to medium heat until they are softened.


  4. Add the browned lamb back into the pot along with the carrot, herbs, and beef stock. Stir the beef broth to combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Pop in the oven (lid on) for 2.5 hours.


  5. Remove from oven. Add the baby potatoes and Dutch baby carrots.


  6. Pop back in the oven for a further 30 mins. Remove from the oven again. Taste test and make sure that you have tender meat, cooked potatoes, and the lamb pieces are melting in your mouth.


  7. Stir through the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt/pepper.


Cook’s notes…

Irish Stew is a bit different from many other slow-cooked stews as it’s not required to reduce the broth into a gravy-like sauce. Broth is best people! Irish stew could be described as being more of a chunky soup if you will!? For me, it’s just perfect, but if a gravy sauce is more your thing, just reduce the broth on top of the stove by simmering (lid off) after removing it from the oven until you get the desired consistency. Alternatively, try adding a peeled potato with the carrot at the prep stage. Before adding the baby potatoes, remove the potato, mash thoroughly, and stir back through. It will thicken things up a little and give you a more gravy-like consistency. A tablespoon of flour added to the lamb prior to browning will also do the same thing.

To trim Dutch carrots…
Remove the leaves and the bulk of the stalks leaving around 1 cm attached to the top of the carrot. Using the blade of a small knife, scrape the carrots to remove the skin. Alternatively, you can carefully use a vegetable peeler, being sure not to lose the shape of the carrot.

How to serve up Irish Stew

I generally serve up my classic traditional Irish stew as a big hearty meal bowl with a side of colcannon or creamy mashed potato and a slice of Irish brown bread or my bacon, chive and cheese soda bread, slathered with butter. This is a big batch recipe so we eat it over a few days.

A good smattering of finely chopped fresh parsley also lends itself a bit of freshness on top of the finished dish!

A black cast iron pot of slow cooked, Irish lamb Stew on a bench

Have leftovers and want to rehash them for another night’s dinner?

To mix things up, try popping any leftover Irish stew into a pie dish and top with a layer of puff pastry or mashed potato. Bake and serve with steamed vegetables. In Winter, it also makes a cracking soup. It’s pure comfort food. Just increase the amount of stock in the recipe and you’ll have a hearty homemade lunch for days. Heaven on a cold day.

Can I freeze it for another time?

A big YES!!! This slow-cooked Irish stew freezes perfectly and tastes just as good as a just-out-of-the-oven stew. I portion them into meals for 3 (our family size) and pop them in an airtight container, then into the freezer when completely cool. It’s also a good idea to make a few lunch-size portions for a ready-made weekday work lunch! It’s an easy one to reheat on those cold days when you just don’t feel like cooking.

Love slow-cooking? Here are a few more of my slow-cooked recipes…

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A black cast iron pot of slow cooked, Irish lamb Stew on a bench

An Irishman’s Wife’s Traditional Irish Stew Recipe

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  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 people 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: slow-cook
  • Cuisine: Irish

Description

Because what’s the good of an Irishman’s wife if she doesn’t have a good traditional Irish Lamb Stew recipe up her sleeve?


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil (extra virgin)
  • 1.2 kg Lamb Shoulder (cut into 4cm cubes)
  • 1 Leek (finely sliced)
  • 1 Brown Onion (finely sliced)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 carrot (large)
  • 1 l Beef Stock
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Sprigs Thyme
  • Sprigs Parsley (flat leaf )
  • 1 bunch Dutch Carrots (trimmed)
  • 6 baby potatoes (or 3 larger potatoes cut in half)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sea Salt Flakes
  • Pepper (freshly ground)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°c.
  2. Warm up a cast iron casserole with a little oil. Once hot, add a few lamb pieces. Brown lamb on all sides. Cook the lamb in batches to avoid overcrowding in the pot and the meat stewing. After each batch is cooked, remove the meat from the pan, place on a plate, and set aside. See those little cooked browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot? Those crispy bits add so much flavor to stews and sauces, so don’t worry if anything sticks or if there are any little burnt bits in the pan. It’s all flavor!
  3. Add a little more olive oil (if needed) and the onions and leeks to the Dutch oven. Saute on low to medium heat until they are softened translucent.
  4. Add the browned lamb back into the pot along with the carrot, herbs, and beef stock. Stir the beef broth to combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer on top of the stove.  Pop in the oven (lid on) for 2.5 hours.
  5. Remove from oven. Add the baby potatoes and Dutch baby carrots.
  6. Pop back in the oven for a further 30 mins. Remove from the oven again. Taste test and make sure that you have tender meat, cooked potatoes, and the lamb pieces are melting in your mouth.
  7. Stir through the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt/pepper.

Notes

Irish Stew is a bit different from many other slow-cooked stews as it’s not required to reduce the broth into a gravy-like sauce. Broth is best people! Irish stew could be described as being more of a chunky soup if you will!? For me, it’s just perfect, but if a gravy sauce is more your thing, just reduce the broth on top of the stove by simmering (lid off) after removing it from the oven until you get the desired consistency. Alternatively, try adding a peeled potato with the carrot at the prep stage. Before adding the baby potatoes, remove the potato, mash thoroughly and stir back through. It will thicken things up a little and give you a more gravy-like consistency.

Depending on the cut of meat and the amount of fat on it, it may be worth browning your meat in a frypan suitable for high heat as opposed to an enamel Dutch oven. To get the best result with poorer cuts of meat you need to render the fat by browning /searing the meat on a high heat. This ensures the meat becomes palatable in the stew. I love my cast iron pot (we have a relationship!) – Most of my cookware is Le Creuset enameled cast iron. This stuff is the bomb for slow cooking, however, it just hates high heat and if I really want to render that fat good and proper, I will sometimes use a frypan for this step! 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 497
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 948.1 mg
  • Fat: 18.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.7 g
  • Protein: 46 g
  • Cholesterol: 132 mg

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6 Comments

  1. I cooked this over the weekend while we had a snow storm. It was just what I was looking for on a freezing Winter’s day






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