Although we have many dishes to tempt on our bistro menu, we do occasionally get asked for special requests, such as this one between Christmas and New Year for Irish stew and dumplings.
Made in almost the same way as my lamb and apricot. I used lamb neck rings from Home Farm. A I arrived to pick it up they were in the middle of cutting lamb dice in their butchery so Iwas able to take a few discarded lamb bones too which added even more flavour.
The lamb was seared like the beef for the beef pie, then cooked with onions, celery and canelled carrots for 3 - 4 hours in lamb stock. The advantage of cooking it on the bone is that the bones impart all their flavour to the meat, and the sauce while cooking, and on the whole, just like cooking duck or chicken on the bone, it is just much more succulent.
After that you drain the sauce and leave the lamb to cool. You can add the potatoes and dumplings in 30 minutes before the end of cooking, or, as I did, cook them afterwards so they are cooked perfectly. While the lamb meat was cooling, the sauce was split in half and returned to the boil with potatoes - one pan containing diced estima potatoes, and one pan with turned new potatoes. Once cooked these could be chilled.
The same sauce was then used to cook the suet dumplings.
When the lamb is cool enough to handle you can take the meat away from the bone, sinew and fat. These bones can then be re-boiled to make an additional stock which can be reduced and added to the finished stew.
When cooled the meat is cut into bite-size morsels, and the sauce adjusted to taste.
If you are eating straight away drop the lamb, carrots, onions, potatoes, dumplings and maybe a little chopped rosemary back in to re-heat, or if not, leave to cool in the fridge and re-heat the next day (always tastes better heated up, when the flavours have had time to develop ovenight).
Lamb and apricot casserole