International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Irish Stew

Bowl of Irish stew

(Irish lamb and potato stew)

Average: 3.3 (18 votes)

Even though this dish — known as ballymaloe, or stobhach gaelach in the Irish language — started out as a meal for hard times, its delicious flavor belies its humble origins. In the old days, this hearty stew was made with simple mutton neck bones and meat scraps for flavor. Sometimes actual mutton or young goat meat was used. In the last few decades it has become much more common to use milder flavored lamb.

4 to 6 servings


  • Lamb or mutton, cut into chunks -- 2 pounds
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds -- 2 pounds
  • Onions, chopped -- 2
  • Water -- 3 or 4 cups
  • Parsley, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
  • Salt and pepper -- to season


  1. Lay one half of the potatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Cover with half the onions. Add all of the lamb, and then layer in the rest of the onions. Top the onions with the remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough water to come about 3/4 of the way up the ingredients.
  2. Set the pot over medium flame and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the potatoes have broken down and thickened the stew. Add water as needed to keep stew from becoming too thick. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Irish Stew Variations

  • Chopped carrots, celery, turnips or parsnips are often added to a good Irish stew. Sometimes pearl barley is added to make an even more substantial and filling dish. Additional seasonings often used include thyme and rosemary.
  • Use a Guinness stout in place of the water if you like.
  • Cut half the potatoes into rounds (which will break down and thicken the stew) and the rest in larger chunks if you like.
  • If you prefer, the stew can be brought to a boil on the stovetop, and then covered and finished in a 350ºF oven.


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