Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: B: Barley: Irish Stew

April is here, which means the start of spring and better weather but also plenty of April showers. Spring is my favourite time of year, especially living in Spain as it´s not too cold nor too hot and it´s ideal for picnics, BBQ´S ,walks in the country, bike rides...need I go on!!!Also, all the flowers and the trees are starting to blossom and bloom and the air is fragrant with their perfume and of course you can´t forget all the cute baby animals being born!!So, just as the weather is changing and we are preparing to move onto the letter C in our Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge, we have room for just one more hearty, warming winter dish,which is comfort food at its best, Irish stew.

When I started writing this post, the weather had changed to bright, sunny, blue skies and the temperature had started to warm up but now we are back to dull, dreary and very wet weather, ideal for this stew!!I had originally wanted to make Irish stew in time for St. Patrick´s Day but unfortunately couldn´t find the right cut of lamb so delayed it and ended up buying a quarter of lamb for half the price of the usual fillets I buy!!It´s all separated and bagged up and in the freezer, ready to be used. I think I have enough for at least 3 or 4 different meals!!Unfortunately, my daughter who usually eats stew at both of her grandparent´s house took one look at it and said she didn´t like it and wouldn´t even try it...so much for getting her to eat more variety and try new things!!!

The recipe is adapted from Classic Potato Dishes edited by Lisa Dyer and also included parsley dumplings which would be delicious with it but I didn´t have all the ingredients for the dumplings so left them out but it´d also be great with some crusty bread or French baguette to mop up the juices, anyway without further ado on to the recipe:

Ingredients(4 people)
2tbsp olive oil
1/2  or 1 large onion, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1 large carrot,sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
about 700g lean lamb cutlets or lamb shoulder, cubed
60g pearl barley
900ml lamb/beef stock(I used a beef Oxo cube as didn´t have any lamb stock)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt & pepper
fresh parsley to garnish

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently fry onions, leek,carrot and celery for 5 mins,without browning.
2. Add stock,lamb and pearl barley and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat.
3. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes,adding the potatoes after 20 minutes.
4. Season with salt & pepper and serve garnished with fresh parsley(picked straight out of my garden!)

I loved this hearty stew and it will become a staple during the cold winter months from now on. I´m glad I tried barley as I love the taste and texture it gives to dishes...am looking forward to experimenting more with barley and hopefully I´ve inspired you to try it and experiment with it too!Maybe one day I´ll also manage to get my daughter to try it too.I also had plenty of leftovers too which I could freeze to take out for a day when I haven´t got time to cook!!

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