Ireland's national dish is Irish stew. A traditional Irish stew was always made with mutton, but more often nowadays, is made with lamb. Controversy reigns over whether vegetables other than potatoes should be added; adding onions, leeks and carrots not only adds extra flavour but also nutrition to the stew. The choice is yours.
- 1.35kg (2½-3lb) lamb chops (gigot or rack chops) not less than 2.5cm (1in) thick
- 8 medium or 12 baby onions
- 8 medium or 12 baby carrots
- 8 -12 potatoes (more if you like)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1½-1¾ pints stock (lamb if possible) or water
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cut chops in half; trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside.
- Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered pieces).
- Peel onions. Scrape or thinly peel carrots (if they are young, leave some of the stalk on).
- Cut the carrots into large chunks, the onions into quarters through the root (if small, you can leave whole).
- Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown.
- Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with salt and pepper.
- Deglaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole.
- Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole (they will steam while the stew cooks). Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the pan.
- Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, approx 1-1½ hours.
- When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking.
- Check seasoning, allow to rest for 10 minutes in casserole before serving.
- Garnish each serving with chopped parsley