I’ve talked about the first real cookbook I ever owned - which wasn’t really a cookbook; it was a Betty Crocker recipe booklet called “Soups, Stews, and Chilis.” The highlight was a bunch of award winning chilis from the International Chili Society; after those amazing chilis, though, the rest of the recipes were bland and disappointing. There was one surprising exception - Irish stew. It seemed as bland as the rest of the recipes in the book, with only three ingredients: onions, potatoes, and lamb shoulder. They are layered in the pot, sprinkled with salt and pepper, covered in water, and simmered. No browning, no spices…how boring, right?
I was wrong. Irish Lamb Stew is anything but bland. The ingredient list may be simple, but the bold flavor of lamb and onions combine to make it an interesting stew, with a surprisingly hearty broth.
I thought the stew would adapt well to the pressure cooker, so I googled around to check see what versions were out there. I came across this recipe by Diana Henry. Mrs. Henry is a very popular food writer in England, and a cult favorite here in the States. In her recipe, she explains the importance of the potatoes - they crumble while cooking, thickening the broth with their starch. That explains the extra body in the stew.
Now, when I say “thickening the broth”, don’t expect something you can stand a spoon in - this is a very thin broth, walking the fine line between soup and stew. In the pressure cooker, because of the sealed environment, most stews come out with thin broths - but the potatoes work their magic, adding body to the liquid.
I also jumped on Mrs. Henry’s suggestion of carrots and thyme - as much as I liked the simplicity of the three ingredient version, I can’t pass up carrots and thyme in a stew. Even better, Mrs. Henry grew up in Northern Ireland - I trust her judgement on what should go in an Irish Stew.
No pressure cooker? See the Notes section for stove top instructions.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Irish Lamb Stew
Inspired by: Roast Figs Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul by Diana HenryPrint
Pressure Cooker Irish Lamb Stew - comfort food from Ireland.
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 ounces dark beer (Guinness)
- 2 cups water
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch lengths
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- Layer ingredients in the bottom of the pot: Put the sliced ingredients into the pot in layers. Start with a layer of half of the sliced onions, then a layer of half of the sliced potatoes, one sprig of thyme, and half of the lamb. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients; layer in the rest of the sliced onions, then the sliced potatoes, the other sprig of thyme, and the rest of the lamb. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Simmer the beer, add the rest of the water: Pour the beer over the layered ingredients in the pot. Set the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat, but don't cover. (Use saute mode in an Instant Pot.) Bring the beer to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. (Listen for the boil - you won’t be able to see it in the bottom of the pot.) Pour in the two cups of water.
- Set the basket of potatoes and carrots on top: Sprinkle the chunked potatoes and carrots with ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and the minced parsley. Put the potatoes and carrots in a vegetable steaming basket, and set the basket in the pressure cooker, directly on top of the layered ingredients.
- Pressure Cook for 18 minutes with a Natural Pressure Release: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the cooker up to high pressure over high heat, and then reduce the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 18 minutes in an electric pressure cooker, or 15 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes.
- Serve: Open the lid away from you to avoid the hot steam. Lift out the basket of potatoes and carrots and set it aside. Stir the stew, breaking up the potato slices to thicken the broth. Fish out the thyme sprigs and discard. Stir the basket of potatoes and carrots into the stew. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve by ladling out a bowl full of solids, then pour a few ladles of broth over the top.
- No pressure cooker? No worries. Layer the ingredients in a dutch oven with a lid. Follow the instructions through step 2, adding an extra 2 cups of water.
- Don’t like lamb? Substitute beef chuck shoulder for half or all of the lamb. I won’t judge.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Sunday Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Irish
Keywords: Pressure Cooker, Instant Pot, Lamb, Stew, Lamb Stew, Irish Stew, Guinness Stew
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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