At its most traditional, Irish stew is made with just lamb, onions, potatoes, and water. There’s no browning or precooking to develop flavor, which often results in a bland stew that lacks complexity. We set out to change that and create a lamb stew that would be sustaining, satisfying, and memorable. While most recipes call for boneless cuts of lamb, tasters liked the rich taste and velvety texture of broth fortified with marrow-rich bones. To make sure that our recipe remained a stew and not a braise, we cut the meat off the bones (we chose lamb shoulder chops for their superior flavor) and cut it into small pieces. As a bonus, the pieces had more surface area to build flavorful browning. Simply adding the bones to the Dutch oven as the stew simmered gave the stew plenty of body, and the bones were easily removed before serving. To further thicken the stew, we stirred in ¼ cup of flour, and added medium-starch Yukon Gold potatoes halfway through cooking. The potatoes released some starch while also holding their shape nicely. Though we prefer 1½-inch-thick chops here, 1-inch-thick chops will suffice. If possible, try to buy the chops from a butcher, since most supermarket chops are too thin. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, you may need to brown the lamb chops in three batches rather than two.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Total Time: 3 Hours
- 4½ pounds lamb shoulder chops (blade or round bone), 1 to 1½ inches thick, trimmed, meat removed from bones and cut into 1½-inch pieces, bones reserved
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2½ pounds onions, chopped coarse
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 3 cups water, plus extra as needed
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pat lamb dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of lamb on all sides, about 8 minutes; transfer to bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining lamb; transfer to bowl.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onions, and 1¼ teaspoons salt to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits, until onions are browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in flour and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in water, scraping up any remaining browned bits and smoothing out any lumps, and bring to simmer. Add reserved bones, then lamb and any accumulated juices. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook for 1 hour.
- Place potatoes on top of lamb and bones, cover, and continue to cook in oven until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.
- Remove pot from oven and discard bones. Stir potatoes into stew and let sit for 5 minutes. Skim excess fat from surface of stew using wide, shallow spoon. Adjust consistency with extra hot water as needed. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.