Irish stew in an old copper pot

Photo of of Irish Stew or Guinness Stew made in an old well worn copper pot.

If you’re planning to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day holiday at home, you are part of growing number of Americans who like to commemorate the day with a family dinner. A national St. Patrick’s Day survey found that regardless of family roots or Irish heritage, the holiday is more about food and family than drinking.

More than 30% of respondents said they celebrate at home or at friend or family member’s house. Less than 14% of those surveyed celebrated at a bar or local pub.

This year, you may want to serve a traditional Irish dinner. The main course is an all-in-one-pot lamb stew with root vegetables and pearl barley with a side of Northern Irish potato bread. Here’s a little history about these Irish recipes.


This dish originated from the old ways of cooking over an open fire. A good Irish stew should be thick and creamy, not swimming in juice. Adding potatoes and pearl barley gives the stew body and texture, and makes it a hardy, main-course meal. Carrots are typically added for extra color and interest.

The authentic Irish recipe calls for mutton, which is usually an older lamb with a tougher texture of meat, which made it perfect for stewing. I suggest using lamb from Australia, which is readily available at most American grocery stores.

Australian lamb is juicy, tender and raised to a specific size and weight producing a quality product that is slightly leaner than beef and less expensive than American domestic lamb. Australian lamb is typically grass-fed and has a phenomenal flavor and texture. For more information about Australian lamb, beef and goat, or more Australian lamb recipes, go to


Northern Ireland’s love of the potatoes is part of a rich legacy of dishes such as this recipe for potato bread (also called fadge or farls). Typically, this bread recipe incorporates leftover boiled potatoes, but leftover mashed potatoes will work just fine. The finished bread is like a flat bread in texture.

Try these traditional Irish recipes and use Australian lamb to add a modern twist to your St. Patrick’s Day menu!


2 pounds boneless Australian lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 large yellow onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 medium Irish or white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/8-inch rounds

3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 cup pearl barley

4 cups water or chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

1. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the lamb with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper and the flour. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add half of the lamb, and brown on all sides, about 7 to 8 minutes total. Remove the lamb to a bowl and repeat with the remaining oil and lamb. Remove the second batch of lamb and add it to the bowl.

2. Add the onions to the pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, carrots and the remaining teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the lamb to the pot with the barley. Stir to combine.

3. Add the water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Then, decrease heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the lamb and barley are tender. Add the parsley. Stew will be thick.


1 cup mashed potatoes (leftovers are fine)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or Irish butter

1/4 cup flour plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place the potatoes into a large, microwavable bowl. Mix in the butter and salt. Heat on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes or until warm. Mix in the flour until the mixture turns into a dough.

2. Split the dough into two equal pieces. Sprinkle a cutting board with the remaining flour. Roll the dough on the floured board to create two circles about 1/4-inch thick.

3. Cut the circles into quarters. Brown on both sides on a lightly greased hot griddle or heavy-bottomed pan about 5 to 6 minutes. Serve warm with stew.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

© 2020 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis

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