Hearty Irish stew perfect for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond

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(MS) — Though March may mark the official arrival of spring, the warm weather synonymous with spring typically does not arrive until April or May.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrants who spend the day outdoors celebrating their Irish heritage would do well to warm up with a hearty meal once the revelry ends. Irish stew is tailor-made for such feasts, as it aligns with the theme of the day and also serves as a warm and filling meal.

Slow cookers make whipping up a batch of Irish stew somewhat effortless. Simply combine the ingredients in the morning, then return at night to a completely cooked meal you can enjoy with family and friends. Any favorite stew recipe can be adapted to the slow cooker. For inspiration, try this variation.

Slow Cooker Irish Stew

(Serves 4-6)

2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (you also can use chuck beef roast if you prefer it to lamb)

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

3 to 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks, or half a bag of prepared baby carrots

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 can beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pint Irish stout beer

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon flour

Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, coat meat with the flour. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet and cook the onion until translucent. Add the meat and brown.

Place the potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and celery in the bottom of a slow cooker crock. Add the cooked meat and onions. Pour in the beef broth and beer.

Add the tomato paste, fresh herbs and salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on “high” for 4 hours or “low” for 8 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley and offer with crusty bread and salad.

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