Like much of Ireland’s cuisine, Irish stew is simple, appealing fare. The economy once depended heavily on sheep for wool and milk, so stew made with the meat was a natural byproduct. Purists think of Irish stew as a pot of lamb, potatoes, and onions cooked in water. The addition here of carrots, thyme, and stock doesn’t stray far from the traditional recipe, and the dish is a study in richness. You can, with care, fill a dish with flavor using only a few ingredients.
Another tradition on the day following Irish stew is shepherd’s pie, a meaty dish covered with mashed potatoes. Chop the meat and vegetables from the stew, add cooking juices, and top it with a smooth mash. The second-day dish is comforting, familiar, and as delicious as the first.