Irish Stew - History & Cooking
In the 19th century all cooking was done in the fireplace and various pots were used for cooking. As well as stews, potatoes and soups were cooked in large pots. Soda bread was also cooked in the fire hearth.
Pots were hung over the fire from a metal crane. Soda bread was not cooked in an oven as it is today, instead the bread was placed in a pot with a lid and cooked over the glowing embers of a turf fire. The fireplace was the centre of the house, life revolved around the fireplace. The old Irish proverb:
‘níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’
literally means 'there's is no fireplace like your own fireplace' and the modern equivalent is 'There's no place like home'.
Stewing food is an ancient form of cooking. After the Celtic invasion of Ireland, the Irish Celts used Cauldrons as well as spits to cook. The Cauldrons were hug over an open fire and ingredients were cooked by the heat of the fire and not in a conventional oven as they are today.
Irish Stew - Ingredients
Irish stew can be made from a variety of meats but is most commonly made from Beef or Lamb and occasionally chicken. Irish Stew can also made with Mutton. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is over a year old. It has a stronger flavour than Lamb, some feel it is also fattier than using Lamb. Modern recipes include the addition of ingredients such as Guinness and beer. The choice of ingredients is down to personal choice, many people use the basic Irish stew recipe as a basis and add their own 'twist' or secret ingredient to make the recipe their own!