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Irish Stew

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Ingredients:

• 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 cup vegetable oil

• 1 bag pearl onions, peeled (see note)

• 4 large carrots, thickly sliced, or a bunch of baby carrots

• 1 16-ounce bottle stout beer, such as Guinness Draught

• 3 cups low-sodium beef stock

• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

• 1 pound new potatoes, halved

• 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

• 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season lamb well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the lamb, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Transfer lamb to a plate and set aside. Add onions and carrots to the pot, stirring to coat with the oil, and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned. Stir in stout, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Mash together the flour and butter into a smooth paste and then whisk the paste into the broth. Return lamb to the pot, stirring to combine the mixture. Layer the potato halves on top and bring the stew to a simmer. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Cook until the lamb is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and garnish with parsley and chives.

Note: Fresh pearl onions can be a pain in the you-know-what to peel. Follow this method to make de-skinning them a breeze:

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain the onions and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. To peel, simply cut off the root portion of the bulb and squeeze gently. The onion will literally pop out of its skin.

Serves 6 to 8

Allen uses bone-in slices of lamb shoulder, which can be tricky to maneuver. I like to use boneless lamb shoulder or leg, for it is easy to cut and cook and has a marvelous flavor. For a true Irish feast, serve this hearty stew with a warm loaf of Irish soda bread and some salty Irish butter.

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