Treat your tastebuds with a little piece of Ireland this St Patrick's day with this traditional, delicious yet simple Irish Stew and Soda Bread.
1 tbsp sunflower oil
200g smoked streaky bacon, preferably in one piece, skinned and cut into chunks
900g stewing lamb Lamb , cut into large chunks
5 medium onions Onion, sliced
5 carrots Carrot , sliced into chunks
3 bay leaves
Small bunch thyme
100g pearl barley
850ml lamb stock
6 medium potatoes Potato , cut into chunks
Small knob of butter
3 Spring onions , finely sliced
250g plain white flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
25g butter Butter , cut in pieces
Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.
Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. The stew can now be chilled and kept in the fridge for 2 days, then reheated in a low oven or on top of the stove. Remove from the oven, dot the potatoes with butter, scatter with the spring onions and serve scooped straight from the dish.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it in quickly with a table knife, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips (handle it very, very gently). Now shape it into a flat, round loaf measuring 20cm/8in in diameter.
Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. (Traditionally, this lets the fairies out, but it also helps the bread to cook through.) Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If it isn’t ready after this time, turn it upside down on the baking sheet and bake for a few minutes more.
Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean tea towel (this keeps the crust nice and soft) and leave to cool. To serve, break into quarters, then break or cut each quarter in half to make 8 wedges or slices – or simply slice across. Eat very fresh.