Category Archives: Meat dishes

Ireland – Irish Stew

As a child my idea of Irish stew was that thick grey gloop that used to come in a tin.  When you opened the tin the stew would come out in one piece and stand up in the pot still in the shape of the tin.  It really wasn’t good and I don’t want to think about what was in it to make it that distinctive grey colour.  Then on a trip to the Isle of Man to visit my family I experienced the real thing.  We were at an event with my great-Aunt, it was at a hotel on the promenade and it all seemed very posh to me.  I don’t remember the starter or the dessert but I do remember the wonderful bowl of steaming meaty stew that was served as the main course.  The meat fell to pieces as I tried to spear it with my fork; the carrots and potatoes were soft and infused with the juices of the lamb and the broth was perfect for soaking up with thick slices of buttery bread.  I have tried to replicate this dish many times but have never succeeded.  But perhaps as with many things from our childhood that we remember through rose tinted glasses it probably wasn’t that good just as I’m sure that every summer holiday from my childhood wasn’t rain free.

Here is my version of a traditional Irish stew.  It is easy to prepare and cook and if there is any left it freezes well for up to 3 months.  Enjoy with a side of peas and cabbage, some crusty bread and a bottle of red.

Irish Stew

Serves 6

  • 500g lamb neck fillet – trim off any thick pieces of fat or sinew and dice into 2cm pieces
  • 2 onions – thickly sliced
  • 6 carrots – sliced on the diagonal into 2cm pieces
  • 3 waxy potatoes – sliced into 2cm chunks
  • 4 turnips – quartered
  • 4tbsp pearl barley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5l lamb stock
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp parsley


Put everything except for the potatoes and salt & pepper in a large pot.  Cook the stew on a very low heat for 1 ½ hrs.

Add the potatoes by placing them on the top of the stew, do not stir in.   Cook for an hour.

Season the stew with the salt & pepper and top with the parsley.  Serve on its own or with some hot buttery soda bread and green vegetables.


Sweden – Meatballs

If King Minos was around today, rather than create an elaborate labyrinth in which to imprison the Minotaur I’m sure he would save himself some hassle and leave the minotaur in the middle of the kitchen section at Ikea.  Even Theseus with his ball of twine would not be able to find his way out of this winding, twisting maze of plates, cups and useless plastic hooks.  If like me you find Ikea infuriating, confusing and after your second circuit of the bed linen section you start to worry that you are never again going to see daylight, do you ever stop and ask why you are putting yourself through this?  Then you smell them and you remember why you keep returning.  You sniff again, you know they are somewhere nearby, if only you could find your way out of the oversized prints of New York section.  The little spicy balls coated in creamy, fruity sauce topped off with a big dollop of lingonberry sauce.  There is something very moreish about the meatballs at Ikea, they pop in your mouth and are gone in one bite, then the next, then the next, you keep going until you have wiped every last smear of sauce off the plate.  Then you stand up, clear away your plate and head back out into the maze knowing that even if you are destined to spend the rest of your days wandering aimlessly around the pot plant department you have provided your body with the sustenance to keep going.  Now you just need to find the bags of Daim nuggets and you will be able to take on anything.

If you don’t fancy wasting a day of your life traipsing around the big blue box here is my recipe for Swedish meatballs.

Swedish Meatballs

Serves 4-6


  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 350g pork mince
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1tbsp dill – roughly chopped
  • 1tbsp parsley – roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • 75g dried breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

For the sauce

  • 400ml beef stock
  • 1 1/2tbsp plain flour
  • 75ml double cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce


In a large bowl mix together the herbs, beef & pork mince, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, mixed spice and nutmeg until completely combined – go on get your hands stuck in there.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Clean you hands then roll the mix into balls – it makes 16 large balls or 24 small ones.  Put the meatballs on a tray, cover and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Put the oil in a large pan, add the meatballs and fry on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes for small meatballs or 15-20 for large ones.  Turn them over a couple of times so they brown on all sides.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep them warm.  Add the lemon juice, flour, cream and 100ml of the stock to the pan.  Stir well until the flour is mixed in.  Add the rest of the stock, the cranberry sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir well, bring the mix to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until the sauce becomes thick.  Return the meatballs to the pan and coat in the sauce, cook for 2-3 minutes to re-heat the meatballs.

Serve with extra cranberry sauce, big fat chips and some peas.