Another dish of the fields, traditionally made with cheaper cuts, usually the neck (scrag-end) of mutton. When the recipe made its way into the big house it was transformed into a generic stock pot with other root vegetables, herb and spice flavourings, and meat from the better cuts of the animal. Irish stew changed dramatically during the 1800s when the blackface breed were brought from Scotland to graze hill habitats. A smaller animal than its lowland cousin, the blackface produced a sweeter tasting meat, prominent in the neck bones and meat. Connemara hill lambs, which are slaughtered between 10 and 14 weeks, now give Irish stew a distinctive taste, especially if the better cuts of meat are combined with the neck bones. This is the original traditional recipe tweaked to include more meat than bone.
3 kg waxy potatoes, peeled, quartered 2 kg onions, chopped 1.5 litres water 1 kg hill lamb neck bones 1 kg hill lamb shoulder meat 30 g black pepper, freshly ground 25 g salt
Arrange neck bones in a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones. Stack potatoes on top of the bones, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt. Fill the pot with water three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours. The result should be a thick potato stew containing pieces of meat and bones, with the onions completely melted.
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