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Clodagh's hearty Irish stew

Crikey it’s cold outside! What we need is something to warm us all up - and we’re in luck.

Clodagh will be serving up a traditional family favourite for the cold weather, her mum's hearty Irish stew.

Irish lamb stew with pearl barley

Serves 6


For the stock

1 lamb bone

1 carrot

1 onion 

2 peppercorns

1 bouquet garni

20g butter

4 carrots, cut into chunks 

3 parsnips or small turnips, cut into chunks

4 medium onions, sliced 

6 waxy, medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks 

900g stewing lamb, cut into chunks 

120g pearl barley

2 sprigs fresh thyme 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

For the roux

15g butter 

15g plain flour


1. First make the stock. Preheat the oven to 150C, fan 130C, gas 2. Place the lamb bone, carrot and onion in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until well browned.

2. Fill a large saucepan with 2.5 litres of cold water. Add the roasted lamb bones and vegetables , peppercorns and bouquet garni then bring to the boil and simmer for as long as possible (2–3 hours, if you can) to bring out the flavour; skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface.

3. Preheat the oven to 150C, fan 130C, gas 2.

4. Place an ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat and melt the butter. Next add the carrots, season with salt and pepper and stir until they are a nice golden colour. Remove to a plate and repeat the process with the onions, parsnips or turnips, potatoes and lamb. 

5. Spoon all the vegetables, lamb and pearl barley into the casserole dish, placing the potatoes on top (you don’t want them to get mushy). Remove all the leaves from the thyme and add to the dish. Cover with the hot lamb stock.

6. Cook in a preheated oven at 150°C for 1½ hours. 

7. While the lamb stew is cooking, make a roux: Melt the butter in a saucepan and beat in the flour, until it forms a paste. Once the casserole has cooked, ladle the juices from the stew into a saucepan and slowly beat in the roux. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Then pour the thickened gravy back into the stew before serving. 

8. Serve with my rosemary soda bread (recipe below).

Rosemary soda bread

Makes 1 loaf


200g white flour, plus extra for dusting

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

350g wholemeal flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon sea salt

250ml natural yogurt

350ml milk

Milk and yogurt mix, for brushing


1. Preheat your oven to 220C/ Gas mark 7.

2. Sift the white flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the wholemeal flour, half the rosemary and the sea salt. Using clean hands, mix the dry ingredients together and make a well in the centre of the bowl.

3. Whisk together the yogurt and milk and slowly pour into the well of the dry ingredients. Use your free hand to mix the dough lightly, spreading your fingers far apart. Make sure that there are no dry patches and that the dough is completely wet.

4. Pat your hands with flour and shape the dough into one round. Place on a floured baking tray. Flour a large knife and cut the shape of a cross into the top of the dough about two-thirds of the way though.

5. Brush the dough with the milk and yogurt mixture using a pastry brush, this will give a lovely golden colour to the bread once baked, and sprinkle the remaining chopped rosemary on top.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C / gas mark 4 and bake for a further 25 minutes. To test whether the loaf is cooked, tap the bottom with your knuckles; it should sound hollow. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

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