Although Mr. Henry slightly preferred Murphy’s, a blind taste test between them might fool even the most seasoned pub crawler. (After the first two pints no one cares, anyway.)
Following a day riding around the Blaskett Islands on ten-foot North Atlantic swells, for dinner you need a hearty dish that won’t upset your queasy stomach.
Traditional Irish stew is lamb with potatoes, often prepared with carrots, leeks, onion, parsnips and rutabaga. Unlike other savory stews the meat is not first browned and therefore the broth is not dark.
Having eaten it daily in Ireland, Mr. Henry had a good idea of what it should be. You can use shoulder but Mr. Henry bought lamb neck, the tastiest and least expensive of cuts, but one that takes a bit more trouble.
Traditional Irish stew
three lamb necks in one-inch pieces
six potatoes, Yukon gold
two large carrots
two large parsnips
one medium white onion
two cloves garlic, whole
bouquet of fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme
zest of lemon
splash of Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
Have your butcher cut the neck into one inch pieces. Bring lamb to a boil in chicken stock with garlic cloves and simmer until tender. Let cool so you can skim the fat. Remove the meat and the marrow, and cut into bite sizes. Discard bones and garlic.
To broth add diced onion and leeks you’ve first wilted in a sauce pan. Dice one potato and add this right away so it’s starch will thicken your broth. Then add potatoes cut in larger shapes as well as the other root vegetables.
Seasoning is mild. Like the song says, use “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” tied in a bouquet. For a richer aroma add ground pepper, a little grated nutmeg, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
You can cook on stove top (low) or in the oven (350º). When your vegetables are nearly done, about one hour, combine the meat and salt. As with any stew, prepare it ahead of time and let it rest so flavors may combine.
Never afraid to fiddle with her husband’s kitchen creations, Mrs. Henry tasted the broth and pronounced it redolent of osso buco, perhaps, therefore, in need of a gremolata at the table, which in this case turned out to be a simple mix of finely chopped lemon peel and parsley. Brilliant.
Next came the question of what to drink. In an Irish pub the black brew on tap is without question the drink of choice. Light in body, dark in color, richly malted, toasted to a crisp, nutty finish, Irish stout porter is divine.
Contrary to general expectations, red wine was too strong for such a mild dish. Wine drinkers at the Henry table chose a sauvignon blanc.
Striving for a more traditional pairing, Mr. Henry enjoyed his stew with the superb new Manhattan Rye whiskey from Hudson Valley, the first distillery built in New York since prohibition. Sláinte.