This reminds me of winter days in my youth, when I would come home late completely soaked through and shivering from playing down by the stream in the pouring rain. Mum would give me a rollicking about catching pneumonia, and then she'd give me a big bowl of stew. This dish just makes you feel really happy, and it's also dead cheap to make.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Put your lamb into a bowl and season well with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Finely chop your rosemary leaves and add to the bowl with the flour. Mix around so that the meat is completely covered. Fry the lamb in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a hot casserole-type pan – do this in batches so the pieces get a nice bit of colour, then remove from the pan and put to one side.
Turn the heat down, then fry your onion, mushrooms and carrots for about 5 minutes until softened and slightly coloured. Add the lamb back to the pan along with the parsnip, Marmite, pearl barley, ale and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes while you skewer 3 chipolatas on to each of the skewers or rosemary sticks. Just before the stew goes in the oven, add the chipolatas to the pan. Then place a lid on or make a cartouche, wet it and tuck this over the pan. Cook for around an hour, or until the lamb falls apart. I love to eat it just as it is, almost like a thick soup, with some crusty bread.
Try this: To really get the flavours going, the Italians have something called gremolata: finely chop some flat-leaf parsley, a clove of garlic and the zest from 1 or 2 lemons (or try oranges, which are also fantastic). Mix this up, sprinkle over the top of your stew and stir in – it will really give it an amazing kick.
Or this: You can play around with different root veg, or even use different cuts of meat – beef works really well in this stew. Just be aware that you may have to adjust the cooking time. It's ready when the meat is tender and falls apart.