Food & dining

Sunday Supper

Irish stew and shepherd’s pie

Irish Stew

Sally Pasley Vargas

Irish Stew

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.

Shopping list


(For Irish stew, shepherd’s pie)

3 pounds cut-up lamb stew meat

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(from the leg or shoulder)

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


6 large (1½ pounds) carrots

7 medium (3¼ pounds) russet


16 large (1 pound) pearl onions

½ bunch fresh parsley

½ bunch fresh chives

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups chicken stock

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon dried thyme

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p
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