Cook Lamb and Spring Vegetable Stew
Edited by Vanessa Alexandra Avisado, Lynn, Eng, VC
There is something distinctively old-world and hearty about a lamb and spring vegetable stew. It is tasty, filling, comforting, and it sounds like something right out of the pages of a pioneering story. Lamb stew is a dish that is often cooked in the spring - although it makes a wonderful supper on cold fall and winter nights.
Lamb, the main ingredient in this recipe is a popular meat in many areas around the globe - in the Mediterranean, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It is an important part of festive meals during spring when Passover is commemorated with the Seder meal, and in other places such as Greece where traditional Easter cuisine usually includes roast lamb.
For cooking purposes, lamb is the meat of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) before it is older than 12 months. Compared to meats from older sheep, lamb is leaner, more tender, and delicate in flavor. Because of this, it is a splendid base for any cooking that uses a lot of vegetables.
To cook good lamb stew, you need to use stew meat. Butchers usually prepare this from the more flavorful lamb parts (such as shoulder or neck) that are not tender enough for quick cooking on the broiler. Here are two simple recipes for lamb and spring vegetable stew - one done with a modern slow cooker, and the other done in true-old fashioned style. Try both and add new treasures to your recipe collection.
Conventional Braising Method
If you don't want to spend too much time waiting for meat to soften, it is important to use genuine lamb meat when you cook this stew. Read the label on the pack carefully, or ask the butcher to make sure you are not getting mutton or hogget (sheep old enough to have two incisors). In some countries, stores do not differentiate between meat from year old sheep and meat from older animals. If you can't find out, it is really not a big deal. Your stew will come out good - you will just have to wait a little longer for it.
|Ingredients:||4 sprigs fresh parsley||1 sprig fresh thyme||2 sprigs fresh rosemary||1 bay leaf||6 whole black peppercorns||3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (trimmed of excess fat and stripped of any loose membrane)||3 tablespoons olive oil|
|1 large onion, finely chopped||5 garlic cloves, finely chopped||1 cup dry white wine||2 1/2 cups beef stock or broth (Chicken will so fine if there is no beef broth.)||1 teaspoon salt||1/4 teaspoon black pepper|
|1/2 pound baby turnips, trimmed and cut in two, lengthwise||1/2 pound baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in twp, lengthwise||1/2 pound baby zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthwise||1/2 pound snap peas, trimmed||2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature||3 tablespoons all-purpose flour|
- 1Preheat oven to 379 degrees F. Then, take a piece of cheesecloth, and make a bouquet garni with the herbs, bay leaf, and peppercorns.Advertisement
- 2Pat meat dry and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper as desired.Advertisement
- 3In a heavy 6-quart pan, heat oil over medium heat until simmering, and brown lamb pieces in small batches. Turn meat occasionally and transfer each batch to a bowl.
- 4When all the meat has been browned, add about 1 tablespoon oil to the pot, bring up the heat to moderately high, and sauté the onions and garlic for about six minutes. Scrape up all caramelized bits and add the bouquet garni.
- 5Braise lamb in the middle of the oven for 1 ½ hours. Check for tenderness; if nearly done, stir in salt and pepper.
- 6Boil vegetables separately. The turnips and the carrots will take 4-5 minutes while the zucchini only needs 2 minutes. Sugar snaps are the fastest; they need only 90 seconds. Once vegetables are cooked, rinse them in ice water to arrest the cooking process and drain in a colander.
- 7Knead butter and flour together to make a beurre manié. Remove the lamb from the oven and put it on the stove top, allowing it to come to a simmer. Gradually whisk enough of your dough-like beurre manié into the stew until you get the desired thickness.
- 8Add vegetables and serve.
To prepare this dish as early as two days before you serve it, do the following:
- Prepare the braised lamb until soft. Cool completely while uncovered, then refrigerate with lid on. Do not thicken with beurre manié.
- The day before, cook vegetables and wrap in dry paper towels. Place in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate.
- Thirty minutes before serving, remove vegetables from refrigerator and reheat the stew. Add the beurre manié and the vegetables.
Slow Cook Method
|Ingredients:||2 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth||3 carrots, scraped and thinly sliced||2 large onions, thinly sliced||5 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.||2 pounds lamb neck pieces or shoulder chops, extra fat removed|
|3 tablespoons oil||1/8 teaspoon salt||1/8 teaspoon pepper||1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)||Finely chopped parsley or chives for garnish|
- 1Heat oil until simmering and very lightly brown the lamb meat, a few pieces at a time.
- 2Bring broth to boil. Arrange all the vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot and place the lamb on top.
- 3Add boiling stock to crockpot. Add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes (if using). Cook stew on high for 3 ½ hours or 4 ½ on low.
- 4Ladle into soup bowl, sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives, and serve with crusty bread.
The quality of your stew will depend largely on your meat. To make sure you get good lamb, pay attention to the following tips.
- The meat should be a nice bright red. To be sure about the freshness of the meat you are buying, check the date on the packaging.
- The package will be marked prime, choice, good, and utility. Prime is the grade assigned to the best quality.
- Look for good marbling in the flesh, the small flecks or short strips of fat in the muscle. This indicates the meat will be tender and tasty.
- The lamb should be firm and moist. It is expected that some of the fluids from the meat will leak into the container. If there is no moisture, that means the meat is dried up and possibly old stock.
- For a large party, choose leg of lamb; it is a cut that will serve a good number of guests. Rack of lamb is delicious, but you will get only around seven to eight ribs per rack, or about 16 ribs if you create a "crown". At three ribs per person, you will only be able to serve five to six people.
- To cut lamb more easily, cut the meat into pieces before it is fully thawed. Then return the meat to the refrigerator and continue thawing.
- Do not cook lamb until it has been fully thawed. Lamb that is still frozen in parts will not cook evenly; you might get meat with the outer parts overdone before the inner portions are cooked.
Categories : Cooking
Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Vanessa Alexandra Avisado