Don’t be put off by the name of this stew.  Fig Jam is actually the beer that I used for the stew but it is also so good it lives up to its “Fig Jam” name!  I happen to be a very proud and fortunate close relative of the maker of this beer.  The Burleigh Brewing Company on the Gold Coast is one of our countries leaders in craft brewing and they produce the most outstanding, award winning  and seriously sensational beers.  I swear I am not being biased.  I was not a beer lover until I tasted the real thing and I now understand that a good beer is like a good wine and even those that believe they don’t have a palate for beer should take up the challenge and try one!  It is a life changing experience.  This stew would work (maybe not quite as well but would come damn close) with any good pale ale as Fig Jam may be difficult for some to get hold of, but if you can set about hunting it down……do it.  This gorgeously fragrant, tasty beer paired with tender lamb shoulder and an abundance of garlic and herbs was magic on a plate and the creamy mash, beefed up with bacon and finely shredded cabbage was the perfect accompaniment to soak up all that rich, beer laced gravy.

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Prep time:  30 Minutes                  Cooking time:  31/2 Hours            $$ Low to medium Budget

Serves 4

Olive oil for frying

800gm of boned and diced lamb shoulder

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

12 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

2 bay leaves

11/2 tbs of plain flour

300ml of Burleigh Brewing Fig Jam IPA (the other 45ml is for you to have a wee swig)

11/2 cups of good quality beef stock

1 tbs of worcestershire sauce

2 tbs of tomato paste

1 tsp of sugar

1 tbs of parisienne essence*

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Thyme tips for garnish

For the Colcannon:

Olive oil for frying

4 medium sized cream delight potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 short rindless bacon rashers, halved and finely sliced

6 savoy cabbage leaves, rolled up and finely shredded

1 spring onion, finely sliced

40gm of butter

2 tbs of cream

2 tbs of milk

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Pre heat the oven to 160°C

Heat a large, oven proof casserole or frypan on the stove and add a little olive oil.  Season the lamb pieces generously with salt and pepper and fry until golden and caramelised.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil if needed and lightly fry the onion until soft before adding the garlic, celery, carrot, thyme leaves and bay leaves.  Fry for a few minutes until the veggies just start to soften and change colour.  Add the flour and allow it to absorb all the oil and fat from the lamb.  Cook the flour for a minute or so before pouring in the beer and stock.  Scrape the bottom of the pan and stir continuously until the sauce starts to thicken and then add the tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, sugar and the parisienne essence.  Season with a little salt and pepper, stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Pop the lamb back in the pan, juices and all and allow to simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes until everything has thickened up and it is bubbling away nicely.

Tear of a piece of baking paper and tuck it over the lamb stew, so that no steam can escape.  Pop on a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 21/2 to 3 hours, stirring periodically until the lamb is meltingly tender.  Remove from the oven and place the stew on the stove.  Discard the baking paper and simmer for 10 minutes or so with the lid off just to reduce the liquid a little.

While the stew is in the oven and about 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, place the potatoes in a pot of water, cover with a lid and bring to the boil.  Boil for approximately 20 minutes until tender.

Heat a frypan on the stove, add a little oil and fry the finely chopped bacon pieces until golden and almost crispy.  Add the spring onion and finely chopped cabbage and stir fry for a few minutes until just wilting but nice and bright green in colour.  Drain the potatoes and mash with a potato masher.  Add the butter, cream, milk, salt and pepper and whip with a wooden spoon.  Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and fold the mixture through the creamy mash.

To serve, divide the mash mixture between four serving plates or large bowls.  Ladle the stew around the mash and sprinkle over the thyme tips.  Serve with Burleigh Brewing Fig Jam IPA and be prepared to enter into food nirvana…..

*  Parisienne essence is found in the food colouring and baking section of the supermarket.  It is a really old fashioned ingredient (I bet your Grandma used it) used to give gravy and stews etc a nice deep rich colour.