Irish Lamb Stew

Happy Wednesday, everyone…I guess.

I don’t about all of you, but the holidays are rushing at me at the speed of sound and I simply don’t know how I’m going to get everything done that I need to in time.  So, I’m going to get down to business right away today.

I’m sure you’re all very grateful. 😛

So.  I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this stew, but that’s pretty much irrelevant: it is delicious and comforting.

As well as simple, as most stews are.  It takes time, yes, if you simmer on the stove per the recipe, but it can also be made in the pressure cooker.  How do I know this?  That’s how I made it.  Simply follow the recipe to the point you cover and simmer it, and pressure cook for 20 minutes as opposed to the 1 1/2 hours.  Do a quick release of the steam, add the vegetables and pressure cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how small you dice the vegetables (I kept the pieces fairly large, because I like my stew chunky).

Voila, the quick version of this Irish Lamb Stew.

In order to keep the recipe grain- and gluten-free, I’ve used tapioca and potato flours – tapioca because it stands up well to high heat and/or prolonged cooking (unlike arrowroot powder) and potato to help with the “gumminess” that often happens when thickening with tapioca alone.  The result was a marvelously silky gravy that was neither too thick nor too thin.  You can, of course, use 3 tablespoons of regular all-purpose flour if you like.  If you don’t consume pork, substitute the lard with ghee (I think both tallow and coconut oil might be too strongly flavored).

Sub the red-skinned potatoes with sweet potatoes and this becomes Whole30 compliant, although I don’t know if you can rightly call it “Irish” then.  But who cares?  It’ll still be delicious and comforting.

Note:  Like most stews, this is even better the next day, and reheats beautifully.

Irish Lamb Stew. This satisfying stew, filled with tender lamb and root vegetables, is just the ticket on a chilly evening.

Click the image to enlarge

Irish Lamb Stew
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 2 tablespoons lard, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
  • 3 large turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound red skinned potatoes, diced
  1. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels, In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, thyme and flours. Toss the meat in the seasoned flour mixture until well-coasted and set aside.
  2. Heat the lard in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the lamb to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, until the well-browned. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.
  3. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Return the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 to 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  4. Add the vegetables to the stew. Continue to simmer over low heat, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 445 calories, 15.5g total fat, 88.1mg cholesterol, 1041.6mg sodium, 1425mg potassium, 43g carbohydrates, 6.7g fiber, 14.9g sugar, 33.1g protein


Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork

This is one of those recipes I sorta pulled out of my, um, refrigerator.

We’ve been so very, very busy with work this week and I’d taken a small pork shoulder roast out of the freezer with the intention of putting in the crock pot Monday morning for barbecue pulled pork that evening.  Insomnia and our morning schedule conspired against me and I forgot all about the roast and the crock pot.  I was kicking myself over it when Beloved suggested I throw it in the pressure cooker.

That made sense, so I did.  Then I started a quick version of my Maple Barbecue Sauce and wondered what the heck I was going to serve it all with.  Well, The Young One would eat barbecue pork-stuffed baked potatoes every day of the week if I made them, but I was more in the mood for something like…soup.  So I compromised and made baked potato soup.  Then I piled the pork in the middle of the soup, topped it with bacon and cheese and called it good.

Actually, it was better than good – it was incredibly, amazingly delicious.  The Young One, who tends to be lukewarm about soup, and Beloved, who tends to be lukewarm about white potatoes, both inhaled this, then went back for seconds and inhaled those, too.  It was declared “the best thing you’ve ever made, Mom!” and Beloved didn’t really say anything because he was too busy eating it.

I have to admit – I really liked it too.  So much so that I ate the little that was left for breakfast the next morning.

The list of ingredients and instructions are long, but it really was simple and came together in just over an hour.  Of course, if you have leftover barbecue pulled pork, it will come together in about 20 minutes, since all you’d have to do is make the soup and the microwave really comes in handy in that regard; I’m of the opinion that if you have a tool, you should use it.  Mostly we use it to heat up leftovers, so it’s nice when I can use it for a more “legitimate” purpose.

This would be good with just about any meat that is chopped and mixed with a delicious barbecue sauce, so if you don’t do pork, try it with chicken thighs.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork.  All of the goodness of a BBQ pork stuffed baked potato in a comforting soup.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork
Serves: 8
  • Pork
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or picnic roast
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Soup
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
  2. Rub the pork shoulder with the salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice. Heat the reserved bacon fat in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat and brown the pork shoulder on all sides. Add the chicken stock, tamari and onion to the shoulder.
  3. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a large, heavy sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened into a sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Scrub the potatoes well and prick them all over with the tip of a knife. Microwave them for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft and cooked through, turning the potatoes every 2 minutes.
  6. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out of three of the halves into a large saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low; add the milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Stir in the flesh from the remaining potato half; season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  7. Remove the pork shoulder from the pressure cooker and trim away any excess fat if necessary. Using two forks, shred the meat and transfer to a large bowl with the barbecue sauce, mixing it well.
  8. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and carefully mound the barbecue pork in the center of each. Top with the cheese and bacon and serve immediately.
  9. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 20.6g total fat, 100.1mg cholesterol, 1404.3mg sodium, 1237.3mg potassium, 45.4g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 25.8g sugar, 34.3g protein

Tangy Country Style Ribs

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about “inspiration.”  What inspires you?  Where do you find your inspiration?

In my freezer, mostly.

I think I’d mentioned last week that the “quick, easy and obvious” stuff from our most recent hog and side of beef is more or less…gone, leaving me with bits and pieces that require, if not more thought, certainly more cooking time.  I’d forgotten to take anything out of the freezer for dinner yesterday morning so I had to when we went home for lunch, and I began rummaging around, looking at hog jowls and pork belly and venison roasts and beef liver and soup bones, wondering if perhaps there weren’t more spare ribs since I’d been so mean as to make them when Beloved was out of town on business.  There are more, but not enough to feed the three of us, so I ended up taking a couple of packages of country style ribs – which really aren’t ribs, but slices of shoulder – out to thaw.

It was too late to throw them in the slow cooker, and braising them in the oven or on the stove top would take more time in the evening than I cared for, especially since I had plans to make ketchup.  So out came the pressure cooker again, and the newly-made ketchup went into a sauce that went on the ribs and boom – dinner in about 40 minutes, from start to finish.

So if anyone wonders what inspires me, it’s odd cuts of pork, homemade ketchup and pressure cookers.

For the record, the resulting dish was absolutely delicious on top of being quick and easy.  Both Beloved and The Young One went back for seconds.

Note:  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can braise these on the stove for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half over low heat.  The rest of the instructions remain the same.

Tangy Country Style Ribs.  These saucy country-style pork ribs are a snap to prepare in the pressure cooker.

Tangy Country Style Ribs
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds country-style pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Ketchup[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  1. Sprinkle the pork with the onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika. Heat the lard in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and brown the ribs on both sides. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meat.
  2. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  3. Serve the ribs with the sauce from the pan, if desired.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 389 calories, 17.2g total fat, 173mg cholesterol, 996.1mg sodium, 936.6mg potassium, 5.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 49.1g protein

Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs

Beloved is not going to be happy when he reads this, and realizes we had spare ribs without him.

I’m sorry dear; I just didn’t know what else to make.  (Be glad I didn’t make the hanger steak.)

The meat in our freezer has gotten to the point where it’s all cuts that need some thought, to say nothing of time, to prepare.  Yes, in other words, we’re running low on hamburger, steak, pork chops and the like.  So when I was rummaging around in the there yesterday, looking for something to make for dinner, I came across the spare ribs and thought to myself, “That sounds really good, but I don’t have time to braise them before I put them on the grill pan.”

Then I remembered I have a pressure cooker.  And do you know how long it takes to make spare ribs in the pressure cooker?

Ten minutes.

Then I realized I didn’t even have to dirty my grill pan – what’s the darn broiler for?

About 35 minutes after I began cooking, we were sitting down to a dinner of delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.  And watch a bizarre show that I don’t understand, but The Young One finds hilarious:  It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

A suggestion to my teenage son, whom I adore but needs to get a clue:  It’s not really a good idea to show Mom a program that revolves around poop while she’s eating dinner, dear.

Note:  While I glazed the ribs in a combination of lemon juice, honey and gluten-free tamari – I’m on a big citrus kick these days, in case you haven’t noticed – you can brush them with just about anything you like.  My Maple Barbecue Sauce would be quite good.

Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs.  Enjoy melt-in-your-mouth ribs in a fraction of the time it would take to braise and grill them!

Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs
Serves: 6
  • 2 pounds pork spareribs
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  1. Cut the ribs into 3-rib sections and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the lard in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and sear the ribs, working in batches if necessary, until they are browned on all sides.
  2. Return all of the ribs to the pressure cooker and add the onion and chicken stock. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  3. While the ribs are in the pressure cooker, whisk together the lemon juice, honey and tamari. Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat.
  4. Transfer the cooked ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet, meaty side up. Brush with half the lemon/honey mixture and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the ribs over, brush with the remaining mixture and place them back under the broiler for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the ribs are glazed and browned.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 390 calories, 29.7g total fat, 95.2mg cholesterol, 295.8mg sodium, 385.5mg potassium, 10g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 7.6g sugar, 19.8g protein

Venison Curry

Sunday night, I sent out a plea on Facebook.

“I don’t know what to post tomorrow – Venison Curry or Bang-Bang Shrimp. Help!”

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of the shrimp, which is why I posted it yesterday.  However, about 1/3 of the commenters wanted the curry, and I’m more than happy to oblige today.

Because this was really, really delicious.  The three of us devoured it, leaving very little in the way of leftovers.  Kind of disappointing, actually.

This is a take on a Massaman curry, a Thai dish with Muslim origins.  It’s most often made with beef, but versions made with lamb, chicken, duck and tofu are not uncommon.  I made mine with pressure-cooked deer shanks, after reading a recipe using venison on Hank Shaw’s blog.

Thanks to the wonder that is the pressure cooker, this came together in just a little over an hour and it’s really pretty simple:  pressure cook the venison shanks (oxtail might be a good choice, too) while preparing the vegetables, then shred the meat from the shanks and add them to the curry.  Boom – done.

We might want to note that due to the additions of the peas, which I just loved, this is not paleo.  You can certainly leave them out if you wish, but I’ve been craving spring peas lately (actually, I’ve been craving spring anything lately) and I really don’t think a few once in a blue moon are going to throw my health into some sort of downward spiral.  They certainly don’t have an immediate affect on my well-being the way gluten, MSG or aspartame do.

In fact, if you leave out the peas and switch out the fingerlings for sweet potatoes, this will not only be paleo, but Whole30 compliant.

Note:  I used a canned curry paste that, aside from a tiny amount of added sugar, is pretty clean.  If you want to make your own, Hank’s recipe contains the ingredients and instructions for what looks like a really dynamite homemade curry paste that contains no added sugar or soy.

Edited to add: Apparently peas, despite being a legume, get the “paleo pass” along with white potatoes and white rice.  This makes me…quite happy, actually.

Venison Curry - a sumptuous Thai-style curry that's rich in flavor and simple to make.

Venison Curry
Serves: 6
  • 3 lbs venison shanks
  • 2 tablespoons lard or other fat suitable for frying
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 quart beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon lard or ghee
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 tablespoons yellow curry paste, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen spring peas, thawed
  1. Melt the 2 tablespoons of lard over high heat in the pressure cooker. Sprinkle the shanks liberally with salt and pepper, then brown in the fat. Add the beef stock to the browned venison.
  2. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 55 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  3. While the shanks are cooking, heat the tablespoon of lard or ghee in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and cook the onions, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, coconut milk, fish sauce, cinnamon and chicken stock; stir in the curry paste. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Once the venison shanks are done, carefully remove them from the pressure cooker and shred the meat from the bones with a fork. Stir the venison and thawed peas into the potato mixture and simmer for an additional 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 455 calories, 24.7g total fat, 27.7mg cholesterol, 1452.5mg sodium, 894.6mg potassium, 26.6g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 5.7g sugar, 33.7g protein