There are few things that rival stew as the best ol’ fashioned comfort food on a cold, dreary day. (Pho and casserole come to mind.) The stew I made most in 2010 was a tasty beef/vegetable/beer thing, baked for an hour and served over mashed potatoes, but then lamb stew came into my life this winter and I think it’ll be the front-runner for 2011.
Note: The varied measurements are because I eyeball pretty much everything when cooking this.
- a big chunk of lamb. I prefer lamb shoulder, which comes in nice bowling-ball sized portions
- about half a pack of bacon
- 4-5 carrots, chopped coarsely
- 2-3 celery stalks, chopped coarsely
- 2 potatoes, chopped coarsely
- large onion or a few shallots, chopped coarsely
- 1-2 cups white wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 bay leaves
- five cloves garlic, minced
- something to serve it in/on. I prefer a sourdough breadbowl for this recipe; mashed potatoes work too. Go for a real bowl if you just wanna keep it simple.
- Cook bacon. Cook more than you’ll need, because you’ll eat it.
- Drain the bacon on a few sheets of paper towel and crumble when cool. Set aside about half the bacon grease in the pan.
- Chop the lamb up into bite-sized chunks and toss in flour.
- Sear the lamb in bacon grease and set aside. Add more grease as needed.
- In a giant pot, saute lamb, bacon bits, garlic and half the onion/shallots over medium-low heat, then add beef broth. Cover, reduce to low heat and simmer for 60-75 minutes, scraping the bottom off every once in a while to make sure nothing’s sticking.
- Add everything else: carrots, celery, potatoes, wine, salt, pepper, bay leaves. Depending on how things measure out, you can also add a bit of water. Liquids should almost reach the top of the solids, but not quite.
- Put the lid back on and simmer for another 20-30 minutes.
Voilà. Tastes even better the next day.