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St. Paddy's Day dining calls for hardy Irish Stew

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner and an excellent way to carry on the Irish tradition of serving up homemade Irish Stew with a loaf of Irish Soda Bread.

There are so many variations of each recipe with the stew usually calling for lamb or beef and the soda bread either plain in nature or calling for raisins or other ingredients.

I must admit I'm not big on the lamb but this recipe that calls for using beef chuck sounds easy and delicious especially pared with the equally as easy soda bread, which serves as the perfect accompaniment to the savory stew.

The recipe I'm sharing for the Irish Stew is new to me but one shared and recommended by a friend who said the savory blend of flavors of the combined meat, vegetables and other accent ingredients is excellent.

It can also be prepared and cooked on the stovetop but this recipe suggests that you simmer it in the slow cooker, which is even easier.

I haven't had the opportunity to make it yet but plan on doing it and serving to guests this St. Patrick's Day.

The Irish Soda Bread is also wonderfully easy. I have prepared this before and I do like to make it the day of and serve it as fresh as possible. It kind of reminds me of the traditional beer bread recipe in consistency and texture. Great with lots of butter.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!!

Irish Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat beef cubes with flour and fry in the oil until brown. Place the carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large slow cooker and put the meat on top. Mix together the beef broth and tomato paste and pour into the slow cooker along with the beer. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the high setting for a few minutes to thicken.

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours for best flavor.