The Irish are known for many things and their prowess in the kitchen is not one of those things. That being said, however, it doesn’t mean that they are totally clues when it comes to expressing their culinary skills. Ask anybody who has had the pleasure of enjoying a bowl of traditional Irish stew and they will tell you, that despite the controversy behind the exact ingredients used, it’s a dish that can be enjoyed from St Patrick’s Day to St Stephen’s Day. The meal itself might require 2 hours of your time but if done right, it should be worth the effort.
And Then Potatoes Changed Everything
Thanks to the arrival of potatoes in Europe back in the 16th century, it opened up the culinary floodgates allowing for different kinds of foods to be created. One of those foods being the slowly brewed cuisine that has become a popular staple in Ireland. Its popularity, however, was a result of necessity rather than a luxury as making stews became prominent during times of economic uncertainty of the time. Two centuries later, the dish is still being consumed, however, it no longer is a means of simply filling the stomach because economic circumstance, and modernisation have allowed for some variation.
Same But Not The Same
In the beginning, there was mutton. But then technology and innovation came along, both in and out the kitchen and allowed for some flexibility to the original recipe. This meant the use of lamb and beef as substitutes became acceptable. That, coupled with the fact that mutton is a commodity has become harder to produce in mass quantities, means that the humble braise could end up as an expensive dish to make, taking it away from its ‘cheap’ meal roots. One important thing to remember is that time and patience is key to brew the perfect stew, adding cornstarch to bring out the flavour doesn’t hurt either.