It’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day, a day where we focus on proclaiming blessings and, of course, wearing green, so as not to get pinched by one’s friends
It’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day, a day where we focus on proclaiming blessings and, of course, wearing green, so as not to get pinched by one’s friends. The blessings are my favorite part, though. The Irish have always been so clever with a rhyme, painting such lovely word pictures.
Here are a few of my favorite Irish blessings:
“May the good saints protect you and bless you today, And may trouble ignore you each step of the way.”
“May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the outside leaves of your cabbage be free from worms.
May the crows never pick at your haystack.
And may your donkey always be in foal.”
“May your troubles be less and your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness come through your door.”
Unlike the blessings, Irish food is a bit of a challenge. Let’s face it, when you think of Irish cuisine, what comes to mind? Potatoes. Guinness. Lamb. Oh, and more potatoes.
Not that there’s anything wrong with potatoes, of course. They lend themselves to many uses, such as soups, casseroles, and numerous side dishes.
My favorite use of potatoes, though, may just be potatoes in stew. Because potatoes absorb the flavor of anything they’re cooked with, they are a delightful addition to most stews. We Southerners tend to lean on beef stew most of the time, and the small red potatoes often used in that stew are indeed flavorful and tender after a long time simmering in the gravy.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, though, I’ll share with you my favorite Irish stew. It’s quite easy to make, and if you can’t find tender lamb to use, you can certainly use a small pork tenderloin in its place in the recipe. Some grocers do carry lamb during the spring, however, for dishes just like this one.
Some folks think they won’t like lamb, and balk at eating it. That’s fine, too. However, keep in mind that my husband thought he’d hate lamb, but when I served this stew at home, he ate seconds, he enjoyed it so much!
Tender lamb stew with dill and peas
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb from shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (or substitute raw pork tenderloin chunks)
8 shallots, peeled, or one medium onion, peeled and chopped
8 to 12 very small new potatoes, washed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
8 green onions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch sections (optional)
1/2 cup snipped dill leaves, or more to taste (found with other fresh herbs in produce section)
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1. Put oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan, then quickly add the chunks of meat. Let the meat sear for about two minutes, until browned. Stir, and add shallots and potatoes. Cook a couple of minutes longer, and add salt, pepper and a cup of water. Stir, scraping bottom if necessary, to loosen any meat bits that are sticking.
2. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring several times to ensure stew isn’t sticking on bottom of pan.
3. Uncover and add carrots; stir, re-cover and let simmer about 15 minutes more, until lamb and potatoes are tender.
4. Uncover, and add peas, lemon juice, and green onions. If there is too much broth for your liking, raise the heat and allow broth to evaporate somewhat.
5. Taste and add a bit of salt, if needed. Serve garnished with dill sprigs, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings.
Can you stand another blessing from some clever Irishman? This one makes me smile.
"May you have food and raiment,
A soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead."
And just one more that I really do hope for you and yours, as well as for me and mine:
"Bless us with good food, the gift of gab, and hearty laughter
And may the love and joy we share be with us ever after. Amen”
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is
"Mama Steph." She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three young adult sons who share her love for Irish blessings and food. You can ind more of her recipes at whatsouthernfolkseat.com.