James Street Cookery School: Lamb stew and Barmbrack loaf are two Halloween faves

Lamb stew
Niall McKenna

THIS week, it's only fitting that our recipes are somewhat Halloween themed. Stew is a great dish for Halloween. It's quite the crowd pleaser, a great warmer in the cold weather and it keeps well, which is an added bonus. It also uses lots of seasonal root vegetables that are easily found in your local grocers.

Barmbrack loaf is a great no-fuss bread. Halloween Barmbrack traditionally contained various objects like a small coin or ring baked into the bread as a sort of fortune-telling game – but those ingredients are up to you.

:: Lamb Stew (Serves 4)


Stock (makes 1 litre)

1kg lamb bones and trimmings

2 medium carrots

2 sticks celery

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

A sprig rosemary and thyme


1 tbsp olive oil

400g diced lamb


2 sticks of celery

1 medium leek

2 carrots

400ml lamb stock

Fresh sprig rosemary

Bay leaf

100g pearl barley


To make the stock, preheat the oven to 200C. Place the lamb bones and trimmings in a tray with roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and bake for one hour. When the lamb and vegetables are fully baked, place the ingredients into a pan along with the herbs and add enough water to cover the contents and simmer on a low heat for between 2-4 hours.

Next, strain the stock and discard any ingredients left. The stock can be placed in the fridge or frozen to use another time. Make sure to peel off excess fat before use.

To make the stew, place olive oil into a large saucepan and fry the diced lamb on a moderate to high heat for a few minutes until it has browned. When browned, lower the heat and add butter, chopped celery, leek and carrots and fry for 10-15 minutes, while continuously stirring.

Next, add 400ml of stock, the bay leaf, rosemary and pear barley and simmer for 90 minutes, adding more stock or water as necessary.

Once slow cooked, it is ready to serve with crusty bread.

:: Barmbrack (2 loaves)


1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch grated nutmeg

450g plain flour

60g softened butter

85g caster sugar

280ml tepid milk

20g fresh yeast

1 egg

225g sultanas

175g currants

60g mixed peel, chopped


First, add the salt and spices to the flour and sieve into a large mixing bowl. When fully sieved, rub in the butter to a crumb. Next, add a teaspoon of caster sugar and a teaspoon of milk to the fresh yeast and mix together well. Add the remainder of the sugar to the mixing bowl of flour and mix in.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and remaining milk together then add to the yeast mixture. Next, add this to the flour and mix well either by hand or with a dough hook, until the mix becomes elastic and stiff.

Fold in the mixed fruit and mixed peel then cover with cling film and leave in warm place for 1-2 hours allowing the dough to rise.

Next, grease two seven-inch loaf tins with butter and place the dough evenly between the trays, cover again and leave for another 30 minutes. After this time, place the tins in the over at 190C for 1 hour.

While the bread is baking, dissolve a tablespoon of caster sugar with a cupful of hot water. When the bread is nearly finished, brush this over the top of the bread then pop back in the over for 5 minutes. When the loaves are ready, remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack.

When you are ready to tuck in, slice and butter.

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