(Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables)
One of the best gifts I got this Christmas was Julia Child’s “The Art of French Cooking”. I’ve loved pouring through all of the recipes here. For some reason I had always had this idea that French cooking was too *nose in the air* for me to even take on. I came across this recipe and thought it would be a good introduction into French cooking for my family, because it seemed like a close cousin to our typically Moroccan fare.
You can check out the full length recipe version in Julia’s book on page 345, but I’ll give the abbreviated version here.
The original recipe calls for 3lb or lamb but that was too much for us, and I cut that amount down to about 1lb of lamb leg cut into 1-2″ pieces. I used boneless meat. Begin by browning the meat in oil and transfer to a casserole once brown.
Once all is browned and in a casserole, add 1/2 tsp sugar and cook on medium high for 3-4 minutes until the sugar is carmelized. Add 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of flour and coat well. Put casserole into a 350 degree preheated oven for 5 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 5 more minutes. This will create a crust on the meat. Remove from oven and place back on stove top.
In the pan used to brown the meat, pour out the oil and add 11/2 cup of beef stock (I used vegetable stock because it’s what I had!) Bring to a boil and scrape up the pieces stuck on the bottom of the pan.
Pour the liquid into the casserole and bring to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup of tomato pulp or 1 tbsp tomato paste to the casserole. Also add 1 clove of mashed garlic, 1/4 tsp thyme or rosemary and 1 bay leaf. You may need to add more stock, it should be almost covering the meat.
Put the cover on the casserole and place on the lower rack of the preheated oven. Allow to simmer for 1 hour in the oven. If you use meat with bones, strain the contents to remove any loose bones or fat and then pour back in over the meat. At this time the spices can be adjusted. Next add the vegetables.
The vegetables might include 2 boiling potatoes, 2 carrots, 2 turnips, 6 white onions , 1 cup of shelled peas, 1/2 c green beans. I did not have all these on hand and used only the potatoes, carrots, peas and beans. Peel any vegetables that have skins and cut into quarters and into 1 1/2″ lengths. Press carrots, turnips, potatoes and onions into the casserole around and between the meat and baste with the sauce. Bring to a simmer on the stove and then cover and return to oven. This should cook for at least another hour until vegetables and meat are tender when pierced with a fork. The peas and beans should be prepared just before finishing by cooking first in boiling water until tender then placed on top of the other ingredients and basted with the sauce. Cover and allow to simmer about 5 minutes.
The final product looked like this. I think I added too much tomato but it was good. Everyone liked it. My overall review was that it was a glorified tajine. It had some different tastes but not much and I hate to say it but I could have tossed all that in my pressure cooker and had the same results in 1/4 of the time.
I’m not giving up on Julia, maybe I just didn’t hit the jackpot this time. I’m going to try a fish recipe tonight and hopefully the results will be better!