Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What Makes Irish Stew "Irish?"


Photo Courtesy of 
Amazon's Affiliate Program.
I was heading past Reedville Cafe, the other day, when I noticed their reader board was advertising Irish Stew.  My first thought was, "Oh, that'd be good."  Then I stopped and asked myself, "Why would that be good?"

I realized, I had no idea what made Irish Stew Irish, or how it differed from general stew.  When I began my research, I had no idea what a controversial topic it was.   At one point, I expected The Smoking Man, from The X-Files, to come around the corner and tell me I wasn't ready for the truth.

Many cooks & restaurants, supposedly, use lean stew beef to make their Irish Stew.  Traditionalists see the usage of beef as, practically, a hanging offense.  Historically, the dish was made with mutton shanks and backbones in order to maximize flavor and use the tougher cuts.  Culinary Irish hard liners will, begrudgingly accept the use of lamb, in place of mutton, but never beef.

Feathers again become ruffled over whether the addition of vegetables, other than potatoes and onions, is allowed in "real" Irish Stew.   While diehards limit ingredient to; mutton, mutton stock, potatoes, onions, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper; modernists have been known to add controversial ingredients, such as, celery, carrots, peas, garlic, cabbage and Guinness.

Such debate has resulted in the publication of a variety of Irish Stew recipes.  I don't have the right to publish any of the recipes here, but below are links to some of the more interesting Irish Stew recipes I've come across.

Of course, there are MANY more variations of the classic dish.  The best advice I can give is, know your audience.  If you're cooking for a traditionalist, you'll probably want to stick to the basic meat, potato, and onion stew.  However, if your guests are more adventuresome eaters, you may want to play with additional ingredients.

No comments:

Post a Comment