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Beer-braised lamb and Dubliner mash

This is the sort of meal I'd love to find on the menu at a cozy pub on a grey day, tucked in a corner with good conversation. Tender chunks of lamb slowly simmered in beer with aromatic leeks and carrots, and served with potatoes mashed with grated Dubliner cheese. It's the kind of eating that's best enjoyed when cheeks are rosy and bellies are in need of a good warming up.

I made this after returning home from a couple hours spent celebrating fall in a farmer's field with the kids. While Mr. Feedbag toiled away tidying up the front garden for winter, I hummed a tune or two in the kitchen as I got the ingredients, including rosemary and leeks from the garden, simmering away in a big pot on the stove.

When it comes to braising liquid I've tried it all - stock, water, wine, even orange juice. But this time I reached into the fridge for a bottle of lager. The whole darn bottle went into the pot with the other ingredients and it just plain works. It adds depth of flavour and body to this humble peasant dinner.

Here's how I made it:
making 4 servings

a splash of vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless lamb, cut into chunks (I used shoulder steaks)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups leeks, chopped into chunks and rinsed well
1 cup carrots, peeled and coarsely-chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely-chopped
1 341 ml/11.5 fl oz bottle of dark lager (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup water

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated Dubliner cheese
a pinch of black pepper

While my oil warmed in a large pot over medium-high heat, I tossed my pieces of lamb with the flour in a mixing bowl to coat. When the oil was hot, I added the lamb to the pot and cooked for several minutes until nicely caramelized around the edges. The browned lamb pieces were removed to a heat-proof bowl and set aside. To the pot, I added the leeks, carrots and rosemary and cooked for a few minutes to soften, using a wooden spoon to scrape all the flavourful browned bits off the bottom of the pot, working them into the veggies. I returned the lamb to the pot and added the beer and water, bringing the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once bubbling, I lowered the heat to low and simmered, covered, for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the mash, I brought a large saucepan of water to a boil and added the chunks of potato. I lowered the heat just a little to medium-high and cooked them for 20 minutes. I drained the potatoes using a colander, then returned them to the pot along with the milk and mashed until smooth with a potato masher. The Dubliner cheese was added before giving a final rough mash. A sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper went on top to serve.

Wholesome and handsome pub food at home.

How do you use beer in your kitchen (other than pouring it down yer neck)? Do  you have a fondness for pub food? Do you have a favourite pub? Leave a comment and let's chat pub eats!