Irish Stew: Something for the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

It didn’t take us long to decide on this week’s recipe. There’s only one event marked on our calendar for the coming week – in bright green Sharpie. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of all things great from the Emerald Isle – and if anywhere knows how to get into the swings of things, it’s New York City!

FYI. A Salt & Battery are running a St. Paddy’s competition. All you have to do is let them know your favorite song by an Irish artist or band to be in with a chance of winning a portion of fish & chips and a Guinness!

Rachel Allen

A bonny Irish lass if ever there were one, Rachel Allen well deserves a place as a Tea & Sympathy food hero. Having learnt her craft at the prestigious Ballymalloe cookery school in County Cork, Rachel is a familiar face on British and Irish television, known for whipping up home-cooked favorites with style and skill. All helped along by her gorgeous accent!

For this St. Paddy’s edition of ‘Something For the Weekend’, it seemed only right that we chose her recipe for Irish Stew, courtesy of the BBC.

Irish Stew


1½kg/3lb 5oz stewing beef, cut into cubes
175g/6oz streaky bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
12 baby onions, peeled
18 button mushrooms, left whole
carrots, cut into quarters or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and left whole
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp chopped parsley
10 cloves of garlic, crushed and grated
425ml/15fl oz red wine
425ml/15fl oz chicken or beef stock

For the roux
50g/2oz butter
50g/1¾oz flour

champ, to serve

Preparation method

  • Brown the beef and bacon in the olive oil in a hot casserole or heavy saucepan.
  • Remove the meat and toss in the onions, mushrooms and carrots, one ingredient at a time, seasoning each time.
  • Place these back in the casserole, along with the herbs and garlic.
  • Cover with red wine and stock and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.
  • To make the roux, in a separate pan melt the butter, add the flour and cook for two minutes.
  • When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables.
  • Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tbsp of roux.
  • Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened, allowing to boil.
  • Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with champ.

Colcannon: Something for the Halloween Weekend

There’s no two ways about it, when it comes to Halloween, you Yanks beat us hands down. But it is of course our Irish cousins who hold the claim to the origin of Halloween, and they have the food and folklore to go with it.

Colcannon is traditionally served on what was known as All Hallows Eve. It’s a deliciously creamy mashed potato, mixed with a variety of scallions, cabbage and bacon or ham. A healthy dose of Irish storytelling comes with this recipe; here’s two traditional tales behind how it’s served on Halloween:

charms were mixed in with the colcannon. Depending on what charm you found it was seen as a portent for the future. A button meant you would remain a bachelor and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year. A ring meant you would get married and a coin meant you would come into wealth…

Unmarried women would put the first and last spoonfuls of Halloween colcannon into a stocking and hang it on their doors. Their shared belief was that the first man who walked through the door would become their husband…

Anything but the thimble!

Here we’ve given you our mashed potato recipe, along with the correct amounts of additional ingredients for you to add how you see fit. We’ve done it this way round as mashed potato will be a key component of future recipes (Shepherd’s Pie anyone?).

Mashed Potato, and Colcannon

Keep your ghouls well fed

Serves 2-3 (for a pie that serves 6-8, double this recipe)
Preparation time: 30 minutes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled (Idaho potatoes are ideal)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup Whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Coarsely chop the potatoes and boil in lightly salted water for 20-25 minutes, until soft.
  • Drain them well and then mash the potatoes, stir in the butter and add the milk little by little until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • For Colcannon, add:
  • 1 head of cabbage, cored, finely chopped and steamed; 1 pound of ham or bacon, fried and chopped; 4 scallions, chopped and fried.
As ever, this recipe comes from our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of an English teashop in New York’. It is now out of print but we have a few copies still in stock. To order, contact us at, or on 212-989-9735.
From everyone at Tea & Sympathy – Happy Halloween!