Photos courtesy of Tourism Ireland
County Wicklow is famous for its sheep and wool, and the Wicklow Mountains have been renowned from the earliest times for the native breeds, which are of a distinct type, and have been on the mountains for centuries. The date of origin of the Wicklow Mountain sheep can only be approximated, but one thing is for sure, the Irish have many seasonal, regional and tasty recipes to take care of nature’s providence, including plenty for the less popular cuts.
This recipe is a twist on the typical Irish lamb stew with a few additional flavors thrown in such as basil, oregano, celery, mushrooms and red wine. It comes from Wicklow Lady Fiona Teehan, whose mother is handed a gift of a whole sheep every year in return for some sheep-minding duties by her father. Fiona is manager of Pembroke Townhouse, a superb example of classic Georgian elegance in the heart of Dublin’s Ballsbridge area, just a 10-minute walk from the city center.
3 tablesp sunflower oil
1 shoulder of Wicklow lamb, boned, trimmed of excess fat and cut into small cubes
3-4 sticks of celery, chopped into 1 inch lengths
1 onion, finely chopped
4 oz mushrooms, halved
1/2 c. red wine
1 c. vegetable stock
1 tablesp cornstarch
1 tablesp fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 teasp dried basil)
1 tablesp fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 teasp dried oregano)
1 teasp grated lemon rind
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To garnish: freshly chopped herbs (some or all of basil / oregano / parsley)
To serve: mashed potato (or buttered noodles or boiled long grain rice to your preference)
1. Heat half of the oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the lamb cubes and fry them, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until they are well browned. Transfer the meat to a plate.
2. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole. Add the celery, onion and mushrooms and continue cooking over the heat until the onion is just soft.
3. Add the wine to the pan and boil well for two minutes.
4. Blend the stock together with the cornstarch and pour the mixture into the pan.
5. Add the basil, oregano, lemon rind. Season with the salt and pepper. Then, add back the cubed lamb. Mix well with the rest of the ingredients.
6. Cover with a lid or tinfoil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 40-45 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
7. Sprinkle with a garnish of freshly chopped herbs (as above). Serve piping hot with mashed potato, (or buttered noodles or boiled long grain rice to your preference)
Optional: If you like garlic, add four cloves of minced Garlic with the onions.
To freeze: This dish freezes well. Cool quickly and pour into a freezer-proof container or bag. Label and freeze. Do not store in freezer for longer than two months.
For more info, go to Discover Ireland.