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The Weekly Downton Dish: Fox Trot

The Weekly Downton Dish: Irish Stew by Pamela Foster, DowntonAbbeyCooks.com

by Pamela Foster, DowntonAbbeyCooks.com

Culinary Historian Pamela Foster

Culinary Historian Pamela Foster

Welcome to another Weekly Downton Dish, where we catch up on what has been happening on Downton Abbey, and share a recipe with a hint at what to expect next Wednesday night.

In S1E2, Matthew Crawley (the new heir) and his mother arrive at Downton, and try to adjust to their new life. While Matthew was struck at the first site of Lady Mary, she considered him a “sea monster” with table manners to match. While Matthew was determined not to change who he was, his mother worked hard to find a way to fit into the community and the family. As the wife of a doctor and a nurse herself, Isobel set off to become useful at the local hospital. Her suggested treatment for tenant farmer John Drake (keep an eye out for him in a later episode). Dr. Clarkson was put in the middle of a battle of wills between Isobel and Violet. Isobel prevailed in the end and was named Chairman of the Hospital Board, much to the dismay of the Dowager.

Downton Abbey S1E3: Matthew and Lady Mary

Matthew and Lady Mary

Downton Abbey S1E3: Kamal Pamuk and Lady Mary prepare to ride out on the fox hunt

Kamal Pamuk and Lady Mary prepare to ride out on the fox hunt

The carrot cake and Pimm’s Cup recipes we shared last week are a great snack to serve before setting off riders (and the odd curious horse) on a the fox hunt featured in this week’s episode. The hunt was a sport enjoyed by the aristocracy since the 18th century, taking turns hosting hunts on their large country estates. As you can see from this episode, women were welcomed participants and taking a fence over water side-saddle does take a skilled rider. I have jumped and participated in a fox hunt or two, but alas I have not had the opportunity (nor the desire) to replicate that stunt.

The Hon. Evelyn Napier–the heir of Viscount Branksome, Lady Mary’s potential suitor and her Perseus– brought Kemal Pamuk, an attaché at the Turkish Embassy to join the hunt. When Pamuk decides to make Lady Mary his latest conquest, he schemes to find himself in her bed chamber. Did I mention I have a great recipe for Turkish Delight? The tryst ends in scandal, a secret which will haunt Lady Mary. Incidentally, this incident was actually taken from a true story.

While a shock to the household, the death of “poor Mr. Pamuk” was not appreciated by the Dowager.

“No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house, especially someone they didn’t even know.” Mary quipped “Oh, Granny, even the English aren’t in control of everything” , to which Violet responds “Well I hope we’re in control of something, if only ourselves.”

As a morality play, I believe that the message here is a strong one. To be “pamuked”, a phrase now in circulation amongst Downton fans, should not refer to the act, but to a general statement about the consequences of our actions.  We should take Mary’s words to heart “aren’t all of us stuck with the choices we make?”

Downton Abbey S1E4: Thomas Branson (Allen Leech)

Thomas Branson (Allen Leech)

Downton Abbey S1E4: William, Gwen, Thomas and Daisy go to the fair.

William, Gwen, Thomas and Daisy go to the fair.

This week the Downton Fair comes to town and the Crawleys hire a new chauffer. Tom Branson is Irish and replaced Taylor who retired to open a tea shop. The thought of which was most unappealing to Carson :“I would rather be put to death”. Here is a hearty irish stew to welcome the new arrival to the servants hall.

Today’s Downton Dish: Irish Stew


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 ¼ pounds stew beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. (¼ stick) butter
  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups ½ inch pieces peeled carrots
  • 1–2 cups of dark beer (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to season


Important Tip: Use paper towels to dry the beef. This will ensure you are browning the beef, not steaming it — makes a big difference in your final stew.

1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beer to deglaze the pan, scraping the bits off the bottom.
3. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme,Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
4. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. After the meat has simmered for 1 hour, add vegetables to the beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes.
8. Discard bay leaves. Transfer stew to serving bowls.
9. Sprinkle with parsley, which gives it a really nice fresh taste, and serve with a hearty bread.
10. For some reason stew always tastes better the next day so if you can resist the temptation to eat it on the first day, refrigerate and enjoy on day 2. This freezes really well, allowing you to enjoy it on a night when you don’t feel like cooking.


Watch Downton Abbey Wednesdays at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

Abbey Cooks Entertain by Pamela Foster - CoverPamela Foster is a culinary historian who resides in the Greater Toronto Area with her husband, affectionately referred to as Lord D. Her popular blog Downton Abbey Cooks explores food, history and health of the Downton era (1912- 1920s). Her ecookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain can be downloaded from her website or through Kobo or Amazon.ca. (Get a sneak peek here.)



all Downton Abbey photos (c) NBC Universal/ITV
photos of Pamela Foster/Abbey Cooks Entertain/recipe dishes courtesy Pamela Foster

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