Irish stew originated from the old ways of cooking over an open fire. The authentic recipe calls for mutton, potatoes and onions, but nowadays most people use lamb, with carrots and pearl barley added for extra colour and interest.

A good Irish stew should be thick and creamy, not swimming in juice. It's the signature dish at the café in Cultúrlann Ui Chánin (House of Culture) in Derry~Londonderry and you'll find it on loads of other eateries in Northern Ireland.



750g (11/2lb) potatoes

1kg (2lb) gigot chops or breast of mutton

Chopped parsley and thyme

5 medium onions

salt and pepper

375ml (3/4pt) water



1. Trim the meat and cut into fairly large pieces. Peel and slice the potatoes and onions.

2. Put layers of potatoes, meat and onion with seasoning into a large pot, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour the liquid over and bring to the boil.

3. Simmer gently for about two hours or cook in a slow oven at gas mark 2/150°C/300°F.

4. Check during cooking, adding more liquid if required.