Monday, March 3, 2014

Joey's Lamb Stew

 If you know me, you know how much I love a fabulous hearty stew. It's just one of those things that makes the whole house smell like home. And as many times as I've made beef stew, oddly enough, I had never tried lamb stew. We never had lamb growing up, probably because it's a tad more expensive than beef. But now that I can afford a little splurge when I feel so inclined, I decided to make it. So, I looked for a few recipes. Basically, many of the recipes that I found can be used for beef or lamb, so I wondered what the difference would be.
 Let me just tell you, if you've never tried it before, you simply must! There is a HUGE difference! For me it was not only the taste, but it was also the texture of the sauce. The meat just fell apart, just as any beef cubes would, but the sauce was so velvety and rich! OMG I couldn't stop eating it.
 So if you're looking for a something other than corned beef or ham and cabbage this St. Patrick's Day, give this one a try. On second thought, don't even wait until then. You should make this right away! Like, today. Like, right now. If you like a hearty stew, I just bet you'll love this one.

Flour for dredging
1-1/2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 or 6 strips bacon, cut into thin pieces (or lardons)
3 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
3 or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
a bundle of fresh thyme sprigs, tied together
3 or 4 bay leaves
1 pkg frozen peas
few splashes Worcestershire sauce
Fresh parsley, optional

 Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a Dutch oven, brown lamb in batches in 2 tablespoons oil. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute bacon until some of the fat is rendered. Add onions and continue to cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Return lamb to the pan. Add potatoes, carrots, thyme bundle, and bay leaves. Cover and place in oven for about 2 hours. Remove from oven and place pot over low heat on the stove. Remove bay leaves and what is left of the thyme bundle. Make a slurry by adding a few tablespoons of flour to the same amount of cold water. Add to the stew and stir until thickened. Add the peas and Worcester sauce. Adjust seasoning if needed. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

I like to braise the meat in the oven and then thicken it on the stove afterwards, but you can just simmer it on the stove for a couple hours until the meat is tender and skip the oven altogether. You could also do the whole thing in the crock pot. Just brown it up as directed and then cook it on low for 9 or 10 hours. I'd still wait until the end to add the Worcestershire sauce and the peas.
If you can't find lamb cubes for stew, you can use lamb shanks or chops and then pull the meat off the bones after it is cooked. Not a fan of lamb? Use beef instead!!
Now I'm just waiting for someone to ask how the lamb stew is so I can say "not baaaaaad". LOL

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