For St. Patrick's Day!
Ok so clearly this is a dumb fake holiday that only a small subset of the population actually celebrates for its intended purpose (see also: many holidays in the US that somehow turn into drinking holidays). Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but shamrocky things and green beer and random Leprechaun gear isn't my cup of tea (beer) at all. Stew, however, is. So, whether you're planning to drink all day like a true Irishperson on Saturday or will have to keep it low key because of toddlers and life and responsibility, this can definitely be your meal.
It's super simple + cozy: Potatoes boiled then crisped in the oven with PLENTY of butter. No hesitation with that one. Then a super simple stew with ground beef, onion, carrot, and cabbage. Light gravy with some beef stock + extra butter and flour, then we top the whole thing with extra sharp cheddar because it's a holiday, and some fresh herbs serve as the green here instead of some kind of chemical in your sad light beer.
Fresh herbs > sad green light beer, no offense.
It's easy! AND, can be made ahead then easily warmed up when you get home from any and all fun St. Patty's activities. The flavors are super simple and familiar, and the whole dish is just so cozy in these last few chilly weeks before spring finally breaks.
To make this happen pretty quickly, I start the potatoes and work on the stew while they're cooking. Grab some baby potatoes and put them in a pot with water + salt - at least a few tablespoons. Bring the potatoes to a boil and let them cook uncovered for 15 minutes until they're mostly tender, then drain them. Preheat the oven to 425F while this is happening.
When the potatoes have boiled, spread them out on a small baking sheet.
Use a glass or other flat container to gently press on the potatoes to flatten them out - this will give lots of surface area for butter + oven crispiness.
Now, melt some butter in the microwave and drizzle or brush it over the potatoes. Do not hesitate at the amount of butter we are using here - we only live once (you're like, yeah, for a shorter period of time after this). Sprinkle the potatoes liberally with salt and pepper, then stick them in the oven.
Let the potatoes roast for 25-30 minutes until they're super golden and crispy at the edges. This could also be our new favorite brunch side dish I'm thinking. Leave the oven on; we'll use it in another minute for the stew.
While the potatoes are boiling and roasting, prep and gather the stew ingredients. Chopped onion, sliced carrots (conveniently leftover from some dip), sliced cabbage. Ground beef, butter, flour, beef broth. Sharp cheddar cheese to top everything, bonus points if you can find some labeled as Irish. Not pictured: chopped parsley and fresh dill for sprinkling, or any other herbs you have.
Start by browning the beef over medium-high with a drizzle of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet (lots of skillets are ovenproof up to a certain temperature, just check the instructions for yours and reduce the baking temperature if needed). Break the beef up with a spoon as you go, pausing between stirring to let the beef brown on the bottom of the skillet.
When the beef is browned, add the onions and carrot and let them cook for 5 minutes, with the beef, stirring a few times to let the veggies soften but not stick to the skillet. When the carrots and onions are soft, add the cabbage and stir to wilt it into the mixture.
The cabbage should start cooking down quickly, in another 3-5 minutes. When it does, add the butter to the center of the beef mixture and sprinkle the flour over the entire skillet.
Stir the flour and butter into the beef and veggies for one minute, then slowly pour in the beef stock, stirring as you go to create a thin gravy. Taste the mixture at this point for seasoning; add salt and pepper to your preference.
Let the beef stew simmer for a minute or two to thicken and reduce slightly, then sprinkle the grated cheddar over the whole mess. Stick the skillet in the still-hot oven (with the potatoes if they happen to not be done yet), and bake the dish for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned in spots.
Honestly, you could go low carb and eat this without the potatoes, but that wouldn't be authentically-Irish-the-way-I-think-about-Irish-food, now would it?
You can definitely serve the two separately, or you can arrange the potatoes on top of the stew for extra prettiness, and top with a big sprinkle of fresh herbs. Dill and parsley are SO good with this and brighten the whole dish, which is a bit heavy (in a good way), up.
I love how cozy and warming this is; it's been super dreary for a few days and we are so over it, but we're digging in for a few more weeks of chill. This will a thousand percent get you through, and is not terrible at all with some dark beer and crusty bread to mop everything up.
Better than green beer and random Leprechaun stuff, for sure.
Irish Stew with Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- 1 pound scrubbed baby potatoes
- ½ cup melted butter
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ onion diced
- 2 medium carrots sliced
- 3 cups sliced napa cabbage
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover by about 2 inches with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt to the water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and let cook for 15 minutes, then drain and spread on a small baking sheet.
- Use a glass or flat bowl to gently press each of the potatoes to flatten. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and drizzle with the butter. Bake the potatoes for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. If the potatoes get done before the Irish stew, leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, make the stew. Heat an ovenproof skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil, then add the beef. Break the beef up with a spoon as you go, and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned and crumbly.
- Add the onion and carrot to the skillet and stir for 5 minutes to soften, then add the cabbage and stir to wilt for 3-5 minutes more.
- Add the butter to the center of the skillet and sprinkle the flour over the veggie mixture. Stir to combine; the mixture will thicken slightly. When the butter has melted and the flour is incorporated, slowly pour in the beef stock, stirring as you go. Bring the mixture to a bubble and cook for 2 minutes to reduce slightly; taste the gravy and add salt and pepper to your preference until the sauce is very flavorful.
- Turn the heat off the stove and sprinkle the cheddar all over the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned in places.
- Sprinkle the skillet with the fresh herbs. Serve scoops of the stew topped with some of the potatoes.