Lamb & Guinness sticky (Irish) Stew


his recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s first cookbooks (Jamie’s Kitchen 2002!) has been sitting on my shelf for years with the page turned down as a reminder to cook it and I never have. Shameful. It’s taken me about 10 years but ‘Dark, Sticky Stew’ is a must for January 2021 for reasons I don’t think I need to explain.

This reminds me of an Irish stew with the addition of the soul soothing pearl barley which has an amazing ability to soak up all the meaty stock. However this one has a slight twist with the addition of chipolata sausages! Its still an odd addition I’m not overly sure about (so omit if you like) as the lamb is the hero itself. Given it reminded me of an Irish Stew I thought it the perfect time to add some dumplings and introduce my South African fiancee to this delicious treat. Light, fluffy and moreish, dumpling done this way are the best and remind me of such wonderful home comforts form my childhood. Most millennials probably don’t even know what Suet is !

It seemed fitting that we celebrated Burns Night last week with some haggis to follow it with some Irish Stew. Maybe some eccles cakes are next on the agenda…

Serves 4-6 (Adapted from here)

  • 800g stewing lamb, diced into big chunks (I used neck fillets, you want something that will slow cook nicely)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 punnet mushrooms (of choice) roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into horizontal chunks
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 tbsp pearl barely (of a big handful)
  • 1 tbsp marmite/Bovril
  • 300ml Guinness/Ale
  • Hot beef/chicken stock (300-500ml)
  • 12 chipolata sausages (optional)
  • Parsley, chopped to serve
  • 1 lemon, zest to serve

Dumplings (makes 4 average sized, double it for more)

  • 100g self tasing flour
  • 50g vegetable suet
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • Cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle the lamb in a tablespoon of flour and some salt and pepper and mix. Heat a heavy based casserole dish with a splash of oil. When hot, add the lamb and seal on all sides until beginning to brown and create a lovely caramelised outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. To the pan juices and oils, add the carrot, onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook gently until soft for about 8-10 minutes. Season well and add the chopped rosemary.
  4. Stir all to combine and add the lamb back.
  5. Add the Guinness/Ale, marmite, pearl barely and mix all to combine. (take a sip of Guinness for your hard work…)
  6. Add the sausages if using making sure they are on top.
  7. Top up with as much stock as you need just to cover the mixture but don’t drown it. This will reduced down in the oven but you want to add enough moisture so its doesn’t dry out and leaves enough moisture to cook those dumplings.
  8. Cook in the oven for 1 hour with a lid on.
  9. Before the hour is up, make the dumplings by mixing the flour, suet, parsley and salt and pepper in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of cold water and mix with a fork until it comes together. Don’t be tempted to add too much water but add enough until it just forms a dough.
  10. Once you have a nice dough ball (don’t knead/ overwork it) cut into 4 pieces and roll into balls.
  11. Remove the casserole after 1 hour and turn the heat up to 200 degrees.
  12. Place the dumplings into the casserole so they are half submerged and half exposed.
  13. Pop back in the hot oven for 20 minutes to brown on top and get those sausages all golden.
  14. Serve with a scattering of parsley and some lemon zest with a big ladleful into warmed dishes!

If you aren’t adding dumplings, a nice hunk of fresh sourdough is lovely for dipping and soaking up those juices! However, its perfectly filling and satisfying just on its own.