THIS RECIPE IS FULLY ENDORSED BY THE DOG. SHE THINKS IT’S THE BEST THING SINCE BUNNY RABBITS.
It’s spring. What better way to celebrate than to eat a cute lamb? A friend of mine gave me the link to this remarkably simple recipe. My adopted little brother gave me some lamb.
Voila’! It was amazing. It was so delicious that I feel compelled to share it here, with my edits because I am totally incapable of following a recipe. I have to tinker with it; it’s endemic.
Find some lamb. This recipe is for a kilo (about 2 pounds), which is double the original. Yeah, it was so good that the second time I made it I doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers. So:
- 1 kilo of lamb, cut into ~1 inch cubes. Can be bigger, or smaller. Whatever. Cut it up for stewing.
- 4 onions, minced
- 1 large spoonful of minced garlic. I cheat and used the store-bought kind. If you’re chopping cloves I’d guess about 4 large ones
- 4 bay leaves
- 500 grams/4 ounces pancetta (or bacon if you can’t find pancetta, the thicker and better quality the bacon, the better) cut into small strips
- A bottle of red wine. The more rich and full bodied it is, the better your stew will be
- 800 g/2 cans unflavored tomatoes – all I can find here is the whole peeled ones, so I chop them up before putting them in the stew
- Some maple syrup, or sugar, or strawberry jelly. Not preserves!
- A few spoonfuls of flour
- Thyme, a palmful
- Salt and pepper
Slowly cook the pancetta in the pot you intend to use for the stew until it is crisp and brown. This takes time and patience, but is well worth it because the slow cooking will melt the fat and that lovely stuff will add depth and flavor to your stew. If the bottom of the pan starts to burn before the pancetta is done, add some of the wine and stir it round to loosen the brown yummy stuff and let it cook off. Repeat this process until done. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl mix the flour, pepper, and thyme. Dredge the chunks of lamb in this mixture until each piece is well-coated, and fry them in small batches in very hot oil until brown on all sides. As each batch is done, toss it in the stewpot on top of the bacon. When you’re finished with the lamb, you can re-use the frying pan to cook the onions and garlic in. Sautee them slowly until translucent and maybe a little brown. Add them to the meat.
Put the stew on heat, add the tomatoes – juice and all – and then enough wine to cover it all, and mix it up gently. Put the lid on, bring it to a fast simmer, then lower the heat until it’s just barely simmering and walk away for an hour and a half or so. It really needs at least two hours to cook it or it won’t taste right. Trust me on this.
Come back later and taste it. Add some sweetener – maple syrup or strawberry jelly is best, but you can use sugar, just add it a little at a time to counter the acidity of the canned tomatoes. Keep tasting it until it’s right. Salt and pepper as you wish. Let it cook until you can’t stand it anymore and then serve.
I paired it with roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts and potatoes, and the rest of the wine. Heel, heel lekker!
[Editor’s note – Two crucial things to ensure the success of this recipe: it HAS to simmer for at least two hours. I’ve made it twice now and both times it did not reach the state of wonderfulness that makes us want to roll around in the stuff until 2 hours had passed. It needs an hour minimum after you add the sweetener. The sweetener is also crucial if you are using canned tomatoes. Carel tasted the stew before I added the maple syrup, and made a face. “Ew. Very metallic!” Yeah. And that’s using the tomatoes in a lined can. You absolutely need to counter that flavor or you will have wasted a couple pounds of very costly meat. So. Sweetener, and time. Use both. It will fail if you don’t.]