Irish Stew by Bord Bia

Irish Stew

I peered into the pots. Irish stew. A nourishing and economical dish, if a little indigestible. All honour to the land it has brought before the world.
The stew was a great disappointment. Where are the onions? I cried. Gone to nothing, replied Martha. I rushed into the kitchen, to look for the onions I suspected her of having removed from the pot, because she knew how much I liked them. I even rummaged in the bin. Nothing. She watched me mockingly.


  • 1–1½kg neck or shoulder of lamb
  • Bouquet of parsley, thyme and bay leaf (tied together with twine)
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3–4 carrots, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 leek, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small turnip, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Some small new potatoes, peeled and quartered, or large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 75–100g cabbage, shredded
  • Finely chopped parsley and dash of Worcester sauce

I could have danced all over your blue suede shoes
I could have squeezed you till morning and fed you booze
But instead I gave you Irish stew.

To Cook

Remove the meat from the bone, trim off all the fat and cut into cubes. Keep the bones, place the meat in a pot, cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil, drain and rinse the lamb.

In a fresh pot put the meat, bones, bouquet of herbs, onions, seasoning, carrots, leeks and turnip and cover with water. Simmer gently for 1 hour. Skim off the foam as it rises (this is very important for the final flavour and appearance of the stew). Add the potatoes and continue cooking for 25 minutes. For the last five minutes add in the cabbage. When the meat and vegetables are cooked remove the bones and bouquet of herbs. Stir in the chopped parsley and a dash of Worcester sauce.

Serving Suggestion

Serve in deep bowls with soda bread.

Recipe and image courtesy of Bord Bia
Excerpt from Molloy by Samuel Beckett
Lyrics from ‘Elvis, I Give You Irish Stew’ by Lisa O’Neill (Domino Music Publishing)

With thanks to Irish food historian Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire