I don’t use lamb very often. I’m “too city,” as farmer folk might say. The closest I’ve come to raising a lamb is spending 15 minutes in a petting zoo, and they’re just too (darned) cute. But as we head into spring, for some reason, it feels less bad. Something about the stories of Passover and Easter and the traditions surrounding rebirth give eating lamb the halo of a religious rite. Beyond my moral equivalency, though, lies a more pragmatic issue: Lamb meat don’t come cheap. Three pounds of lamb actually makes a 3-pound beef chuck roast look like a bargain. So just know that, while the recipe is called Irish Lamb Stew, you can use beef, and this cooks long enough to melt even a cheaper cut such as round roast into tender deliciousness. You can find single cans of Guinness stout at most supermarkets now, so you don’t have to buy a four- or six-pack, but I would recommend beer drinkers getting enough to drink alongside the stew. They go wonderfully together, just like March and the Irish. Top of the evening to you. Irish Lamb Stew Total time: 2 hours, 15 mins; prep: 30 minutes; serves 8 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 pounds boneless, lean lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch pieces (or equivalent beef stew meat) 2 cups sliced onions ¾ cup water 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained 1½ cups dark beer, such as Guinness stout 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 4 medium carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into 2-inch pieces 4 medium parsnips, peeled, halved, and cut into 2-inch pieces Sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish In a large bowl or on a sheet of waxed paper, season the flour with the salt and pepper. Dredge the lamb in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, and adding more oil to the pot between batches if necessary, brown the lamb on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl. Add ¼ cup of water to the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Return lamb to the pot. Add the tomatoes, beer, remaining ½ cup of water, garlic, thyme, and salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, stirring to break up the tomatoes and dissolve the paste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the meat is almost tender. Stir in the potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes more, or until the meat, potatoes and vegetables are tender. Serve the stew garnished with thyme sprigs if desired. Notes: The stew can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator (or place the container under cold running water to release stew) before reheating. Per serving: 554 calories, 19 grams fat, 6.8 grams fiber, 50 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrate, 396 milligrams sodium — Adapted from www.marthastewart.com. — Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.