Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables

A Julia Child recipe via NPR.

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[FYI: I halved this recipe and it worked great.]

  • 3 lbs. Lamb stew meat [I just asked the butcher at Whole Foods for what lamb cut he suggested for such a recipe.]
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp rendered fresh pork fat or cooking oil [I used my bacon fat stored in my fridge; how southern, right?!]
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 to 3 cups brown lamb- or beef-stock or canned beef bouillon
  • ¾ lb. ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped (1 cup of pulp); or 3 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • ¼ tsp thyme or rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 to 12 peeled “boiling” potatoes
  • 6 peeled carrots
  • 6 peeled turnips
  • 12 to 18 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter [I just roughly chopped up a few regular sized onions, proportional to the other vegetables.]
  • 1 cup shelled green peas
  • ¼ lb. or about 1 cup green beans cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 quarts boiling water
  • 1 ½ Tb salt
  • A 10- to 12-inch skillet
  • A fireproof covered casserole large enough to hold the meat, and all the vegetables to come
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes and dry with paper towels. The meat will not brown if it is damp. Brown a few pieces at a time in hot fat or oil in the skillet. As they are browned, place them in the casserole.
  3. Sprinkle the lamb in the casserole with sugar and toss over moderately high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar has caramelized. This will give a fine amber color to the sauce.
  4. Toss the meat with the salt and pepper, then with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle level of preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes more. This browns the flour evenly and coats the lamb with a light crust. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  5. Pour out the fat; add 2 cups of stock or bouillon to the saute skillet. Bring to the boil and scrape up coagulated saute juices. Then pour the liquid into the casserole. Bring to the simmer for a few seconds shaking and stirring to mix liquid and flour. Add the tomatoes or tomato paste and the other ingredients. Bring to the simmer for 1 minute, then add more stock if necessary; meat should be almost covered by liquid.
  6. Put the lid on the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven; regulate heat so casserole simmers slowly and regularly for 1 hour. Then pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a bowl. Rinse out the casserole. Remove any loose bones and return the lamb to the casserole. Skim the fat off the sauce in the bowl, correct seasoning, and pour sauce back into casserole. Then add the vegetables which have been prepared as follows:
  7. While the lamb is simmering, trim the potatoes into ovals 1 ½ inches long, and cover with cold water until ready to use. Quarter the carrots and turnips, cut them into 1 ½ inch lengths, and, if you have the patience, trim the edges to round them slightly [NOPE!]. Pierce a cross in the root ends of the onions so they will cook evenly.
  8. Press the vegetables into the casserole around and between the pieces of lamb. Baste with the sauce. Bring to the simmer on top of the stove, cover and return to the oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly and steadily for about an hour longer or until the meat and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, tilt casserole, and skim off fat. Taste sauce again, and correct seasoning.
  9. While the casserole is in the oven, drop the peas and beans into the boiling salted water and boil rapidly, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are almost tender. Immediately drain in a colander. Run cold water over them for 2 to 3 minutes to stop the cooking and to set the color. Put aside until ready to use.
  10. Shortly before serving, place the peas and beans in the casserole on top of the other ingredients and baste with the bubbling sauce. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes or until the green vegetables are tender.
  11. Serve the navarin from its casserole or arrange it on a very hot platter.

VARIATIONS

The preceeding navarin is a model for other stews. You may, for instance, omit the green beans, peas, and potatoes, and add navy beans or lentils simmered in salt water until almost tender, or canned kidney beans, then finish them off for half an hour with the lamb.

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