If this stew contained Lamb, I would say it is a typical Irish Stew. However; if this stew contained Lamb I would be dining alone – or almost alone. Kiddo doesn’t mind Lamb. At Celtic Fairs, we gravitate to some of the vendors peddling Lamb meat. Lamb kabobs are some of my favorite. Kiddo has to be in the mood. And Hubby – well he would rather starve. There is nothing shy about the flavor of Lamb. Can you tell? It crossed my mind to substitute the cubes of beef for lamb, but I knew I would never get away with it.
Years ago, during Passover our Jewish neighbors brought over a lamb bone for our dog. It was a nice gesture. However; the dog went nuts. She began to howl and bark at the bone, every hair in her body standing on edge. Hubby thought maybe the bone needed to be roasted first. He fired up our gas grill and placed the bone over the flames. As the bone began to brown, the dog became even more frightened, hiding at the far end of the yard and barking like crazy. We threw the bone away. She went to the trash can, sniffed around it and actually pushed the can just to make sure the bone wasn’t going to come out and get her. The dog spend the rest of the night hiding in the house. Every now and again, she raised her head, let out a yelp and listened. We haven’t had lamb in the house since.
I’ve jabbered away before with great pride about my Irish roots. I’ve always identified myself emotionally as an Irish Catholic – with very strong feelings on the subject. It was only recently that my brain clicked. I’m not part of a long line of Irish Catholics, despite my strong and stubborn feelings on the matter. Oh, I am Irish – my dad is Irish. His dad was Irish. However; Grandpa wasn’t Catholic. He was a preacher – and Dad was raised Protestant. Dad converted to the Catholic Church as a young man. None of his brothers did. That meant my cousins on Dad’s side are all Irish Protestants. I am (and proudly so) a first generation Irish Catholic. As a first generation, I have a responsibility of sorts – which might explain my deep love of both my Catholic faith and Irish roots.
Anyway, back to the stew at hand. When I stumbled upon this recipe for Irish Stew, it was a no-brainier. Chop a few vegetables, rinse the barley, add with seasoning and stew meat to a pot and walk away. No tending, no fuss – could not get much more simple than this. And what a stew! Thick, beefy broth. Plenty of veggies. Wow – we’ve found a new stew for the cold winter nights ahead!
Irish Beef Barley Stew
1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew beef, cubed
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups carrot slices (cut into about 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cups celery slices (cut into about 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup onion slices (cut into about 1/2 inch pieces)
3/4 cup pearl barley (rinsed and drained)
5 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
Mix well. Cover and cook over LOW heat for 7 1/2 to 8 hours.
May the Luck of the Irish always be with you . . .