Monday, March 18, 2013

Coffee-Braised Lamb Stew with Colcannon

Let me tell you the story of how this recipe came to be. I was thinking early in the morning of Sunday, March 17: why hadn't I planned a fun St. Patrick's Day dinner? You know some corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew and soda bread. Well, I didnt' have a corned beef lying around, but I did have some lamb. So I started Googling Lamb Stew. I didn't find one that I liked. I did find something on AllRecipes for a Beer Braised Beef Stew with Colcannon which served as the inspiration for this dish. It had good ratings but I had to make some minor modifications. I didn't have dark beer for the braising. What to do? What is dark beer essentially? It adds richness, a caramel-flavor and slightly acidic liquid. So I thought let's try coffee. My husband had just made a pot of strong coffee in the French press so I used the cup that was left and it was FULL of the micro-grounds. Perfect! The flavor was just right and made for a delightfully flavored stew that tenderized the lamb perfectly. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. We were pleasantly surprised. 

Coffee-Braised Lamb Stew with Colcannon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
8 ounces of strong coffee, plus 1/2 cup water and 1 cube beef boullion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 slices bacon
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup milk, warmed (I used the buttermilk mixture I used to baste the soda bread)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (dried parsley is just fine too)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat in 2 batches, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Return all the meat to the Dutch oven, sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat the meat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, coffee mixture, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover. I cooked on medium heat for about 30 minutes then simmered on low for about 90 minutes. Check often to stir and add more liquid if needed. 

Chop up the bacon and brown in a saute pan. (I had some nice lean bacon from Schmidt's Meat Market in Nicollet MN so it didn't need draining, yours might.) I added a couple tablespoons of water and placed the cabbage on top of the bacon, turned the heat to simmer and covered the pot. This is how I wilted the cabbage and it imparted a nice bacon flavor to it. Cook until the cabbage is soft and set aside. 
About 45 minutes before the stew is done, start the potatoes. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Beat the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, or use an old-fashioned potato masher, that's what I do. Stir in the cabbage, crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.
To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with braised lamb stew. Serve with simple Irish soda bread.

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