Stobhach Gaelach.. sounds fancy doesn’t it?
It’s not. In fact it’s one of the most common of peasant foods. Stobhach Gaelach is quite simply “Irish Stew” in Gaelic.
My ethnic heritage is Irish, French and German with a touch of Dutch and Welsh, but if you were to ask my fraternal grandmother, I’m IRISH… end of discussion. She was incredibly proud of her ancestry so, in her honor, I’m getting all fancy and calling this Stobhach Gaelach. I’m sure if she were still with us, she would be lecturing me on what a Traditional Irish stew actually is instead of leaving me to troll the internet for information.
Honestly, I don’t think anyone really knows what makes an Irish stew “traditional”. The internet is full of dissenting opinions. Some say real Irish stew is meat, potatoes and water. That’s it. Other recipes around include beef stock and beer. Some have carrots and turnips. Some say mutton is the only meat to use. Some say beef is just fine. What they all seem to agree on is that it should always include a tough stewing meat of some kind and potatoes. Always potatoes.
Taking all of these things to heart, and considering that my ancestry does include a hodge podge of other things, I decided to make my own version of Stobhach Gaelach because I suspect that Irish Stew was whatever meat and veggie you had around.
I had two gorgeous beef shanks in the freezer from my most recent pick up from West Wind Acres and they were just waiting to be something fantastic.
I didn’t have any beef stock on hand, but those shanks had bones, so those bones were going in. After trimming the shanks up a tiny bit and cutting the beef into about 1 inch sized chunks, I seared those bones off in a screaming hot cast iron Dutch Oven to loosen the marrow and scooped the marrow out. I melted the marrow in the hot pan and then seared off the beef chunks, being careful not to crowd the pan. I had to do it in stages. I put the beef aside and then cooked some diced onion in the same pot. Then the beef went back in.
Since we’ve pretty much established there must be potatoes, I added about 8 whole small, yellow waxy potatoes and a few chunks of carrots. Knowing that carrot pieces will cook faster than the whole potatoes, I arranged my pot thusly.
I popped the bones on top of the carrots, covered it and put the whole thing in a 325 degree oven for about two hours. (This sucker is heavy.. engage the core, use your knees)
I think my Grandmother would be proud.
RECIPE: Stobhach Gaelach
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of beef shanks, trimmed, cut into cubes and bones removed and set aside.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 -3 springs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stem. Discard the stems.
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks.
- 8 very small waxy potatoes, scrubbed
- 12 ounces Guinness Extra Stout
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons malt or cider vinegar (this is optional. There is a lot of fat in this recipe and the vinegar improves the mouth feel)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- If using the bones (I know marrow squicks some people out), heat a Dutch Oven until VERY HOT and sear off all sides of the bones until the marrow browns and softens. Scoop the marrow out and melt it in the pan. If some doesn’t melt, just scoop those bits out… or.. you know.. eat them. Remove bones from the pot. If not using bones, add some olive oil to the pan.
- Salt and pepper the hunks of meat and sear, being mindful not to crowd the pan. Do it in batches. Set the meat aside.
- Cook the onions in the pan until soft. Add back the meat and it’s juices. Turn off the heat.
- Create a ring of potatoes around the outside and put the carrots in the middle. Put the beef bones on top of the carrots.
- Add the Guinness, thyme leaves, vinegar and the water. You may not need two cups. Add enough so the potatoes are covered about halfway.
- Cover and roast in the oven for about two hours, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove the bones and serve.
Notes: you may find that using the bone marrow results in a fatty broth. Since most stews, in my opinion taste better the next day, remove the solids from the stew and refrigerate separately from the broth. The next day the fat will rise to the top and you can lift it off.