Meaty Mainstays

Ballymaloe House Lamb Stew

November 2, 2018

Cherished recipes are like ripples, each one an echo of the  wave-maker that broke the surface. This Ballymaloe House lamb stew is the 1940s original that started the ripples of stews to follow. A version of it was later published in Gourmet magazine (1960s) and then again in Ruth Reichl’s 2004-published volume featuring six-decades of Gourmet recipe bests. Rather than look to the later versions, when Lost Recipes Found reader Iness wrote me in search of the recipe, I reached out to Darina Allen, head of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland, and a member of the family running Ballymaloe House hotel and restaurant and asked for the real deal.

According to Darina, the  recipe was given to her mother-in-law Myrtle Allen by neighbor-lady Madge Dolan in the 1940s. It became a staple at both Ballymaloe House  and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. While lamb stew is extremely common in Ireland with regional variations from county to county, (no carrots in Northern Ireland; barley added for extra sustenance in other places) this version differed from others of the period because  the meat and vegetables are browned in hot fat before stewing, making the finished dish much more flavorful. The stew is delicious served up immediately after you make it, and is just as good warmed up the next day.

Ballymaloe House Lamb Stew
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  1. Ballymaloe Irish Stew Ingredients
  2. 3 lbs, 1-inch thick shoulder lamb chops
  3. 1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut into 2 -inch pieces (8 medium or 12 baby carrots; or, one, 1-lb packaged baby carrots pre-peeled and ready to eat)
  4. 1 lb baby onions, peeled and whole
  5. Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  6. 1 1/2 lbs baby potatoes, peeled
  7. sprig of thyme
  8. 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  9. 2 Tbsp flour
  10. 1 Tbsp each fresh flat leaf parsley chopped, and fresh chives chopped
  11. 2 1/2 cups lamb stock (or unsalted chicken stock)
  1. Instructions
  2. Place the oven rack in the center. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Divide each chop in half at natural division (they’ll split lengthwise, right in the middle.)
  4. Trim visible fat and reserve. Heat fat in heavy skillet over low heat until fat is rendered (discard any solid bits; leave the rendered fat in the pan.)
  5. Season all of the chops with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and brown the chops in the pan in two batches.
  6. Transfer one layer of the browned chops to an enameled cast iron casserole. Grind more pepper and salt over all.
  7. Toss the onions and carrots in the hot fat still in the skillet. Layer about half of the carrots and onions over the first layer of meat. Grind more pepper and salt over. Layer the rest of the chops over; top with the remaining carrots and onion. Grind more pepper and salt over. Arrange peeled baby potatoes over all.
  8. De-glaze the pan with the lamb or chicken stock, scraping any meat or veggie bits loose. Pour all into the casserole. Add the sprig of thyme. Heat to boiling on the stove top. Cover.
  9. Transfer the covered casserole to the preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven. Pour off liquid. Remove grease from the broth and discard grease. Over low heat, melt butter in saute pan; add flour and brown a bit. Whisk in the cooking broth until thickened into a gravy. Pour gravy back over the meat and vegetables in the pot. Garnish with chives and parsley.
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  • Reply Charla June 19, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    I normally don’t comment until *after* I have tried making the dish, but all of your recipes look so good! I also love the history you include in your blog. So fun to read ^-^

    It’s summer here, but I don’t want to wait for cold weather to make this!

    • Reply Monica Rogers June 21, 2019 at 2:54 am

      Ah! thanks for your kind words. I sincerely hope you like the recipes. –Monica Kass Rogers

  • Reply Lisa March 13, 2021 at 12:07 am

    Don’t the veggies get too soft cooking for 1 hour and 15 minutes? Can I let the lamb cook for awhile and THEN add the potatoes/carrots and cook them for the remaining 30-45 minutes?

    • Reply Monica Rogers March 13, 2021 at 2:42 am

      Hi Lisa! The photo shows how they came out–not too soft. I think it’s a flavor-swapping thing: having them in there stewing together makes for a delicious finished result. But hey, you can add the vegetables later if you like 🙂 Cheers from Monica

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