Sunday, February 6, 2011

Eating through the Six Nations #1: Ireland vs Italy

So I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to start running. I read up on a couch to 5k in 8 weeks plan and tucked in. I'm in the middle of week 2 and was supposed to go out yesterday but it was raining, so I put it off until today. But it was raining even worse. I decided to start running while forgetting that I live in probably the wettest county in Ireland. I'm a little behind on my schedule, but that's ok because I had cooking to do!

I was going to do this post yesterday but I hit paydirt at a butcher. I got a huuuuuuge bag of meaty bones so I decided to make stock instead of stew. And I'm glad I did because home-made stock makes for a better stew :)

Each house in Ireland probably has their own version of stew. Some use beef, some use lamb, some add celery, some curse against it. Everyone does it differently. I've asked a few people for their recipes in the years I've been here and they are all very willing, but actually can't give me a definite recipe. Its always 'a bit of this' and 'a bit of that'. This loose description does not jive with my need to weigh out each ingredient and to use my timer, separate from the oven's, to make sure things cook exactly as long as the recipe says. I know it seems silly, but I like to follow a recipe to a 'T' the first time I make it, and then make my changes.

But I did get a recipe. In my favorite cookbook. True to form, I made this stew exactly as described the first time and have made a few changes. A normally drowns his dinners in ketchup and salt (which drives me crazy!) but he said the flavour was perfect and he didn't go near either. As this stew gets a thumbs up from a real-live Irishman, it was the traditional Irish dish for this rugby match.

Irish Stew (adapted from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook)

4 lamb chops (I use gigot or shoulder cuts)
3 carrots
2 onions
450ml stock (I used beef)
1 tsp dried thyme

Lightly brown the lamb chops

One both sides are brown, remove and put the carrots and onions in.

Don't cook them, just make sure they're tossed in the yummy lamb juices. Add the stock and sprinkle on the thyme

Add the lamb chops back in and throw a few peeled spuds on top

Put it all in the oven for 1 to 1.5 hours until the spuds are soft.

Once its cooked, take the lamb chops out and take the meat off the bones. Put the meat back into the pot and serve!

Its not a very 'soupy' stew but you can rectify that by adding more stock. This is really delicious. It tastes like the ingredients - a lovely flavour of lamb, the carrots and onions are sweet, the potatoes have soaked up the lamb-beef-onion-thyme flavour. Its really good and comforting on a miserable rainy day! So this is Traditional Irish dish #1.

For dessert, we went to Italy, as they were the team Ireland played. I used James Martin's recipe and it was alright, but I can't honestly say this recipe wasn't great. I couldn't find mascarpone cheese (after searching 3 stores) so I used ricotta instead which may be why I wasn't mad about it. I also didn't soak the ladyfingers enough. I was afraid they would go to mush so I only dunked them in the coffee/Kahlua/rum mixture for about a second. As a result, the ladyfingers were a little firm and there wasn't much of a coffee/liquor flavour and the cream took over.

But A did like it, which I didn't expect. I think if I'd made it with a stronger coffee/liquor flavour he wouldn't have liked it. So you win some, you lose some. It was still nice, but I'm not sure I'd make it again. Sorry James!

Result of the match: Ireland 13-Italy 11.

That's it for Eating Through the Six Nations #1. Next week Ireland meets France so I'm open to suggestions! So look forward to another traditional Irish dish and something nummy (and probably buttery!) from France!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!


Jenn x


  1. What a great idea, like your rugby then? The stew looks great and I'm sure your dessert would be divine with some marscapone.

  2. It's great to hear that you are running too. How is it going?

  3. yum yum!
    Glad the stew turned out! I'll have to give it a go one of these days.
    I'm sorry your tiramisu didn't turn out :( I love it. Oh, you can easily make your own masarpone cheese, btw. It's, like, one of the only cheeses you can make easily at home. But you need a couple days. And a cheesecloth. And something to hold it off of a counter.