Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guinness Lamb Ribs and Barley Stew

So, we are finally getting some winter-type weather, cold and rainy. Nothing says cooking in season in cold regions like slow cooking something in the oven. The other bonus is that a slow cooking method can make super stars out of lesser (translation: cheap) cuts of meat like lamb ribs.
2 slabs Denver Lamb Ribs
1/2 cup flour
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
6 stalks celery, cut into 1/2" slices
2 large yellow onions, cut into large dice
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 quarts lamb or beef stock, or as needed
12 ounces Guinness stout
1 cup pearl barley
2 teaspoons corn starch
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For a real Irish country touch, include the barley -- cook it for 20 minutes in 3 cups of lamb or beef stock, then add when you return the meat to pot with the vegetables.
Cut off some of the parsley leaves and chop enough to make 2 tablespoons; reserve. Cut off some parsley stems, and tie them into a bundle with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme; reserve.
Boil the Denver Lamb Ribs for 30 minutes. Then season the meat with salt and brown the meat in a little Canola Oil. Remove and reserve, and sprinkle with a little flour, shaking off excess. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and saute, tossing to coat with the fat. Add the Guinness and de-glaze, scraping up any caramelized meat juices. Add the potatoes, return the meat to the Dutch oven and the barley. Add enough stock to barely cover, cook over medium heat until just boiling, then place in 275 degree oven for 4 hours , until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
Check seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste, stir in parsley and the cornstarch (mixed into 4 teaspoons of water) and stir. Continue to cook in the oven for a few more minutes to thicken.
Serve with plenty of Irish brown or white soda bread, tea and more Guinness if you like.
YIELD: 6 generous servings
Be careful. When braising with Guinness or any other dark beer, one has to be mindful not to reduce it very much. Else, the resulting liquid will be very bitter.
Also, I personally prefer to cook this stew the day before, allow to cool (refrigerate), then remove the fat from the top of the stew and reheat. This gives the flavors time to meld and makes for a much better stew.

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