A St. Patrick’s Day Lamb Stew

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 11, 2009
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Every now and then a book comes along that captures the heart of the nation; Tuesdays with Morrie is one such book. Published in 1997, the novel by Mitch Albom is a story of the reunion between Mitch and his favorite old professor Morrie, who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). It was on The New York Times Bestseller List for more than four years. It later became the best-selling memoir of all time.

Manoa Valley Theatre presents the moving drama in its Hawaii premiere March 18-April 5 with Greg Howell in the title role.


This column is dedicated to Greg, who was seen most recently at MVT in the hit musical Rocky Horror Show, and prior to that, the one-man comedy Fully Committed. When he’s not working his day job at Paul Brown in Ward Centre, he’s volunteering his time at MVT as hair and makeup designer; this time, instead of styling other actors, he is working his magic on himself - transforming his visage into the aged face of a wise and wonderful old professor.

Special note: The March 19 performance is a benefit for MDA, with all funds earmarked for ALS research. Call 988-6131.

The person who would be known to history as St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about 385 AD. Patrick was appointed as bishop to Ireland, to convert the native pagans to Christianity. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country, and set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the country to Christianity. His mission in Ireland lasted 30 years. He died March 17 in 461 AD, and that date has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since. The St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737 in Boston; Boston was the port of entry for many Irish immigrants, who fled Europe in search of a better life. This is a version of the famous meat-and-potato stew that was a staple of the Boston Irish.

I like to serve this stew with a loaf of Irish soda bread or brown bread and a sliced tomato salad. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


* 3/4 pound lean lamb, cut into cubes

* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

* 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste

* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

*1 bay leaf

* 4 medium potatoes, cut into small pieces

* 1 large onion, cut into wedges

* 4 medium carrots, cut into thick slices

* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

* 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

* 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary * 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

* 1/2 cup cold beer (may also use water)

* 2 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour

Lightly brown lamb cubes in nonstick skillet. In a large saucepan, combine browned lamb, broth, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, onion, thyme, basil, rosemary and parsley. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes more, or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Remove bay leaf. Stir beer and flour together until combined and slowly stir into stew. Cook and stir until thickened. Cook for about 2 minutes more and stir.

Makes four servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 330
Fat 8: grams
Sodium: 110 milligrams
Cholesterol: 65 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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